17th January 2018

Mary Akor could be denied Carlsbad Marathon prize money

It is understood that the organisers of the Carlsbad Marathon are considering denying winner Mary Akor prize money due to a two year sanction imposed in 2013 after she returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for clenbuterol. The winner of the Marathon is due prize money of US$1,500, however the race organiser’s rules state that ‘to be eligible for elite entry or prize money, an athlete must […] Have never served a ban for use of performance enhancing drugs’.

The Carlsbad Marathon, which took place on 14 January, is organised by InMotion Events. Akor won the women’s Marathon with a time of 2:52:42. The Sports Integrity Initiative sent questions to the race organiser, but has yet to receive a response.

I got an e-mail response from the race director confirming Akor would not receive the 1st place award, but that the 2nd finisher would only receive the 2nd place money award”, said David Monti, Editor and Publisher of Race Results Weekly, which is bad news for second place finisher, Sarah Gulli. “Akor is still the winner because she is currently ‘eligible’ under USA Track & Field and International Association of Athletics Federations rules”A question also remains about why Akor was allowed to enter the race, given her previous sanction for doping.

There are also questions about whether a ban on athletes sanctioned for doping from competing violates the legal principle of non bis in idem, which prevents a person from being punished twice for the same offence. In 2011, the CAS struck out (PDF of judgement below) the ‘Osaka Rule’, which was based on Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter. The Osaka Rule prevented athletes who have been sanctioned with a doping ban of six months or more from participating in the next edition of the Olympic Games.

However, as previously reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative, Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter remains in place. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has since attempted to ban all Russians implicated as being part of the systemic doping found to have occurred in Russia from any future edition of the Olympics.

Only Russian athletes are subject to such a ban. For example, Teja Gregorin of Slovenia was not subject to a life ban from the Olympics, despite reanalysis of samples taken at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics indicating that she had doped.

The IOC argues that the life ban from the Olympics does not qualify as non bis in idem because it is a separate sanction. ‘The Disciplinary Commission underlines that it is conscious that the decision it issues in respect of ineligibility is likely to be challenged with reference to the CAS award CAS 20111012422 USOC vi IOC’, reads para. 484 of the Aleksandr Tretiakov Reasoned Decision (PDF below). ‘The participation in such conspiracy not only constitutes violations pursuant to the IOC Anti Doping Rules, it constitutes a fundamental misbehaviour directly affecting the core values of the Olympic Games’, reads para. 480.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is to hear appeals filed by 42 Russian athletes against sanctions imposed by the IOC for doping next week, with final decisions due to be issued before the end of the month. As Akor’s case highlights, whether the CAS agrees with the IOC’s interpretation could have implications for athletes beyond Russia’s borders.

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