26th August 2021

IOC drops doping case against Brenton Rickard

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has withdrawn an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) case against Brenton Rickard, after reanalysis of sample taken from the swimmer at the London 2012 Olympics returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for low levels of furosemide. It is understood that the IOC dropped the case due to a new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Technical Letter, which came into force on 1 June and clarified that AAFs for six diuretics should not be considered as an AAF if the concentration of the substance in urine is below 20ng/mL. 


Rickard clarified that the amount of furosemide detected in his urine sample was 6ng/mL in a letter penned to his teammates in November 2020, after he was notified about the AAF. Rickard was part of the 4x100m medley team that won Bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and despite not appearing in the final, his five teammates1 would have also lost their medals under anti-doping rules.

“Testing mechanisms have improved to the point they surpass contamination protocols in pharmaceutical manufacturing”, Rickard told Reuters. “So I think I’m probably a bit of a victim of the law of unintended consequences. Hopefully this will lead to some changes in the system that work for future athletes as well, that protect the innocent ones whilst still enabling the system to prosecute those that do try to cheat.”

CJ Ujah, a member of Great Britain’s 4x100m team that won Silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is in a similar situation. He has returned an AAF for Enobosam (ostarine or S-22) and S-23, two substances yet to be approved for human use produced by the same manufacturer that regularly turn up in supplements.

‘I am completely shocked and devastated by this news’, he said in a statement provided to the Press Assocaition. ‘To be absolutely clear, I am not a cheat and I have never and would never knowingly take a banned substance’. It is understood that Ujah will blame his AAF on a supplement labelling error.

However in contrast to Rickard’s case, WADA has not set detection limits for the two selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) detected in Ujah’s sample. Therefore any amount – however small – constitutes an AAF. Therefore it is probable that the International Testing Agency (ITA) will continue its case against him and he will be sanctioned for an ADRV. 

Extract from World Athletics’ Anti-Doping Rules (click to open)…

If that happens, his 4x100m teammates2 will lose their Tokyo 2020 Silver Medals. Even if Ujah is found not to be at fault for his ADRV, World Athletics’ rules state that they will lose their medals if it is confirmed (see right). The logic behind this is that even if Ujah wasn’t at fault for his ADRV, he will have gained an unfair advantage over his competitors from the SARMs in his system.

Footnotes

1. James Magnussen, Christian Sprenger, Hayden Stoeckel, Matt Targett, and Tommaso D’Orsogna.
2. Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Jona Foloko, and Reece Prescod.

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