1st June 2018

FINA cancels Willenbring relay medals, but not freestyle bronze*

The international federation of swimming associations (FINA) has cancelled three US relay results at the 2017 World Juniors due to an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) by Matthew Willenbring, but has allowed him to keep* a bronze won in the 100m freestyle. The cancelled relay results include a gold won in the men’s 4×100 medley relay in a world junior record time on 28 August; a silver won in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay on 25 August; and a fourth place finish in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay on 23 August.

In March, FINA revealed that Willenbring had served a four month ban, after testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide at the World Juniors in Indianapolis on 28 August 2017. His sanction began on 19 October and FINA initially stated that all results from 28 August 2017 would be annulled. His 100m freestyle bronze, won on the day of his positive test, is still listed on FINA’s internet site.

The full decision in Willenbring’s case (PDF below) reveals that FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu only sought annulment of US relay results that Willenbring had featured in. USA Swimming (USAS) accepted that the relay results from 28 August should be disqualified. That is the same date on which Willenbring won his 100m freestyle bronze.

‘The Doping Panel was well aware that on August 28, 2017, the Athlete was a member of a winning Medley Relay but was content in its reasoned decision to limit the sanction imposed on the Athlete to the annulment and forfeiture of “individual results” (largely to protect the identity of the Athlete who was a minor at the time and whose identity the Doping Panel wanted to protect from public reporting)’, reads the decision. Willenbring tested positive after the men’s 4×100 medley relay on 28 August, and FINA ruled that relay events on 23 and 25 August were likely to be affected by his ADRV. Questions therefore remain as to why his 100m freestyle bronze ‘individual result’ on 28 August has been allowed to stand.

* On 7 June, FINA clarified in an email that on 23 March, ‘all individual results of the swimmer are cancelled’, and this included his 100m freestyle bronze. After responding to questions posed by The Sports Integrity Initiative, FINA amended its results page for the 100m freestyle on 7 June, so that Willenbring was listed as disqualified.

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