The trouble with Ostarine: Jimmy Wallhead’s
16th March 2018
• Twenty four athletes from 13 countries, competing in eight sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light during the week ended 7 July 2023.
The 2021 World Anti-Doping Code included Article 10.8.1, a new provision. It allowed athletes charged with a four year ban to benefit from a one year reduction, if they ‘admit’ the violation and accept the penalty within 20 days of being charged.
It is understood that this new Article was introduced to save anti-doping organisations (ADOs) time and money, since it allows them to resolve a case without a hearing. However ADOs often apply Article 10.8.1 even when an athlete has contested every part of their adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’).
Ana José Tima, a Dominican Triple Jumper, reported an AAF for Enobosam (Ostarine) and GW501516 following a 15 November 2022 out of competition test. Tima disputed the AAF and requested analysis of her B sample, which confirmed the result.
Three months later, following the results of that analysis, Tima blamed medication received following knee surgery in December 2021. This explanation was discounted by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics – not least because her prescribed medication didn’t contain either of the two substances.
Tima then said that she had purchased products containing both substances, arguing that she had stopped using them in February 2022. The AIU argued that if this was accurate, this could not explain her November 2022 AAF.
On 2 May 2023, Tima ‘admitted’ use of both substances in January/February 2022 and later on in 2022, since her January/February use couldn’t explain her November 2022 AAF. This happened almost five months after the AIU informed Tima about her AAF on 15 December 2022.
During the past year, The Sports Integrity Initiative has tracked over 25 cases where Article 10.8.1 has been utilised. This includes a one year reduction given to Triathlete Colin Chartier, after he admitted purchasing Erythropoietin (EPO) on the internet. It includes a one year reduction given to Betty Wilson Lempus, despite attempts to maintain her defence that Triamcinolone had been administered as part of medical treatment. It also includes a one year reduction given to Nijel Amos, nine months after he was notified about his AAF – which he also contested.
Investigations are key to anti-doping. As the Eric Lira case illustrated, finding those responsible for enabling doping is more valuable towards reducing doping in sport than a single sanction against an athlete. Athletes are invaluable to such investigations.
Athletes who admit to doping and assist with investigations should benefit from a reduction to their ban. However, an athlete who admits an AAF and tells an ADO who gave them a prohibited substance and when is different from an athlete who contests their AAF and maintains fabrications about how it happened.
Article 10.8.1 mandates that they are treated the same. It allows athletes who contest an AAF and maintain fabrications about how it happened to escape further punishment, so long as they ‘accept’ responsibility within 20 days of being charged.
In addition, it is not hard to see how Article 10.8.1 could be used to avoid an investigation into the circumstances behind an AAF. A corrupt sporting organisation need only instruct the athlete to ‘admit’ to the AAF, and a hearing can be avoided.
Article 10.8.1 is problematic because it treats genuine remorse and a desire to repent in the same way as an attempt to game the system to reduce a doping ban. A difficult debate needs to be had about how to close this loophole to only allow genuine cases through.
Please continue to send any cases we may have missed or suggestions through to the editor by clicking here. Also, if you’re an athlete, national anti-doping organisation (NADO) or other Results Management Authority and you’d like us to cover a case that you’re involved with, please get in touch! Also – a reminder. The SII Anti-Doping Monitor only features confirmed AAFs (‘positive tests’) or confirmed anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs).
Lukasz Widerny, Adrianna Borowczyk (POLADA List of Sanctions);
Maxime Gressier (AFLD Decision);
Kamil Majchrzak (ITIA Statement);
Titus Ekiru (AIU Statement);
Lyubov Kovalchuk, Nurgissa Adiletuly, Andas Samarkanov, Arli Chontey, Artyom Antropov, Daniel Godelli, Ruby Malvina, Hakan Sukru Kurnaz, Pelinsu Bayav, Ogulgerek Amanova, Medine Amanova (IWF List of Sanctions);
Oleg Cherkasov (RUSADA Statement);
Yuriy Shopin (RUSADA Statement);
Andrey Burtsev (RUSADA Statement);
Mariska Venter (ITIA Statement);
Vladislav Kislyakov (RusAF Statement);
Laura Godino (NADO Italia Statement);
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