15 June 2020

AIU: provisional suspension not mandatory under Code

A provisional suspension for an athlete that returns an adverse analytical finding (AAF – positive test) for a ‘specified substance’ that features on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List is not mandatory. Last week, The Sports Integrity Initiative reported that Salwa Eid Naser was not provisionally suspended because she hadn’t returned an AAF and hadn’t been charged with an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). Provisional suspensions for ‘whereabouts’ failures are not compulsory under the World Anti-Doping Code.

This led to questions as to why the AIU didn’t provisionally suspend race walker Caio Bonfim, who returned an AAF for Bumetanide – a diuretic considered a ‘specified substance’ – from two tests on 28 and 30 May 2017. The Brazilian was allowed to continue competing and won a Bronze medal in the 20km race walk at the London 2017 World Athletics Championships in August. A decision on his case wasn’t issued until 27 February 2018, when he received a six month sanction from 1 March 2018, allowing him to keep his Bronze.

‘A specified substance does not require a mandatory provisional suspension under the Code’, wrote an AIU spokesperson in an email. ‘An AAF for a specified substance results in a discretionary provisional suspension (see Article 7.9.2 of the Code). That, coupled with the fact that the Athlete presented evidence to demonstrate that the AAFs were the result of a contaminated product, is why Bonfim was not provisionally suspended.’

Article 7.9.1 of the Code reads: ‘When an Adverse Analytical Finding is received for a Prohibited Substance or a Prohibited Method, other than a specified substance, a Provisional Suspension shall be imposed promptly’. Article 7.9.2 specifies that where an AAF involves a ‘specified substance’, a provisional suspension is optional. 

To clarify, WADA’s Prohibited List outlines that ‘specified substances’ include:

• Beta-2 Agonists;
• Certain Hormonal & Metabolic modulators;
• Certain stimulants.

More serious doping substances – such as anabolic agents (stanozolol) or peptide hormones (EPO) are considered non-specified. This means that an AAF involving one of them automatically results in a provisional suspension. Bumetanide, the diuretic involved in Bomfin’s case, is considered a specified substance. Therefore, if an athlete returns an AAF for the diuretic, a provisional suspension is discretionary.

Bonfim’s case took so long to resolve because it involved a contaminated food supplement that resulted in his hospitalisation. ‘The amount of the diuretic introduced into his system caused damage to his health, causing him to pass out in a competition held in Peru last year, leading to a hospital emergency’, reads a 21 July 2018 statement from his lawyers (below), referring to the Lima 2017 Pan American Games. ‘Investigations carried out by the defence, medical and laboratory evidence produced in Brazil and abroad, as well as other evidence collected in judicial procedures demonstrated unequivocally that the athlete was a victim of contamination. The defence also proved that between February 2016 and May 2017, Caio underwent at least 12 urine doping tests and three biological passport evaluations, all with absolutely normal results, excluding – together with other expert reports – the possibility of diuretic use to mask other substances.’

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A nível de esclarecimento para todos aqueles que me acompanham e torcem por mim venho trazer essa nota de esclarecimento. Foram dias difíceis, de muito questionamento sobre o porquê disto tudo estar acontecendo comigo, mas Deus com sua infinita grandeza nos mostra que seus planos são maiores e melhores que os nossos. Tudo o que eu queria durante todo esse processo era ter a minha inocência provada e graças a Deus eu consegui provar, junto com o meu advogado Dr. Marcelo Franklin, perante a Federação Internacional de Atletismo. Porém, segundo regra da Wada o atleta é responsável por tudo aquilo que toma, seja intencionalmente ou involuntariamente (que foi o meu caso), e, por conta dessa regra tive que arcar com uma punição branda. Aos meus familiares e amigos e a todos aqueles que acreditam e confiam no meu trabalho, meu muito obrigado. “ E não somente isto, mas também nos gloriamos nas tribulações; sabendo que a tribulação produz a paciência, e a paciência a experiência, e a experiência a esperança. E a esperança não traz confusão, porquanto o amor de Deus está derramado em nossos corações pelo Espírito Santo que nos foi dado.” Romanos 5, 3-5. ——————————————————— At the level of clarification for all those who accompany me and cheer for me I come to bring this note of clarification. It was a difficult day, a lot of questioning about why this is happening to me, but God with his infinite greatness shows us that his plans are bigger and better than ours. All I wanted throughout this process was to have my innocence proven and thanks to God I was able to prove, along with my lawyer Dr. Marcelo Franklin, to the International Athletics Federation. However, according to Wada rule, the athlete is responsible for everything he takes, either intentionally or involuntarily (which was my case), and because of this rule I had to bear a soft punishment. To my family and friends and to all those who believe and trust in my work, thank you very much. "And not only this, but we also rejoice in tribulations; knowing that tribulation produces patience, and patience to experience, and experience hope. And hope bringeth not confusion, because the love of God is poured out in our h

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As well as being used as a masking agent, diuretics force the excretion of water, which the above statement argues would be a serious disadvantage in race walking. It is understood that Bonfim filed a criminal complaint against the pharmacy involved in prescribing him with the supplement, which further delayed the case.

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