29 July 2023

Recreational drugs: where criminality and anti-doping intersect

• Eleven athletes (and a horse trainer) from eleven countries, competing in nine sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light during the week ended 28 July 2023.

On 27 September 2018, Scottish Police stopped Craig Campbell, Player/Coach with Brora Rangers in Scotland’s Highland League, finding Cocaine and £2,515 in his car. The Scottish Courts dealt with the case in September 2020, confiscating the £2,515 in cash and fining Campbell £750.  

Almost five years later, the events of September 2018 have come back to haunt Campbell. He has been sanctioned with a four year ban until 22 December 2026 for possession and trafficking of Cocaine. 

Campbell’s offence took place before the ‘substances of abuse’ clause was introduced into the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, mandating lesser bans for recreational drugs used outside of sport. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) argued that under the 2019 Code, possession attracted a four year ban, and trafficking a ban of between four years and a lifetime.

However in the full Decision, UKAD outlines that a four year ban was appropriate given the changes to the Code, and because there is no evidence that Campbell had attempted to supply Cocaine to any player. Campbell admitted both charges of possession and trafficking, however complained about procedural impropriety in the way that UKAD obtained information from the Scottish courts system.

‘Trafficking’ isn’t defined in the World Anti-Doping Code…

The National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) Decision didn’t explain why, given his admission to the trafficking charge, the Scottish Court system had decided that a £750 fine was appropriate. The definition of ‘Trafficking’ within the World Anti-Doping Code doesn’t require a prohibited substance to be trafficked within sport. 

Campbell had arrived at the Brora Rangers ground when he was stopped by police in 2018. If he wasn’t trafficking the Cocaine to players, who was he trafficking it to?

The Decision outlines that on 30 September 2020 at the Tain Sheriff Court, Campbell changed his plea to guilty of the offence of supplying a controlled drug. In other words, he admitted ‘Trafficking’. No information could be found regarding Campbell’s 30 September 2022 conviction in the Scottish courts. Unsuccessful attempts were also made to contact Campbell. 

The case raises a potential ethical dilemma when information is obtained from criminal cases by anti-doping organisations (ADOs). By opening anti-doping proceedings against an Athlete or Coach, could an ADO jeopardise their safety if they’ve been given a lenient sentence by the courts in exchange for information that helps convict a major criminal?

Article 10.8.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code…

Under Article 10.8.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code, athletes who are charged with a four year ban or more can receive a one year reduction, if they ‘admit’ the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) and accept the asserted ban within 20 days. Three cases this week involved this provision, two of which tested its credibility. 

Iranian weightlifter Ali Hashemi was sanctioned with a three year ban after ‘admitting’ an ADRV involving Norandosterone. However despite being given a one year reduction under Article 10.8.1, he argued that his ADRV was the result of contamination, potentially from a supplement.

“When Iran NADO took the test, it was optional and I could have refused it”, the two time World Champion told the Iran Student News Agency. “But because I was sure I was clean, I was tested. Anyone who tests positive for doping denies it and says that he did not use anything, but I really do not know how this substance entered my body.”

While an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for Norandosterone is possible due to supplement contamination, such a defence wasn’t available to Ethiopian distance runner Fantu Eticha Jimma. She was sanctioned with a five year ban after ‘admitting’ an ADRV involving Erythropoietin (EPO), which doesn’t usually feature in supplement contamination cases. However she only ‘admitted’ her ADRV after a second positive test revealed her explanation to be false.

Jimma returned two AAFs for EPO on 20 January and 12 February. The results of the second test came back first, and Jimma argued that she had been treated by a Doctor with ‘vitamins’ on 8 February, four days before the second test. However on 5 June, the results of the 20 January test also returned an AAF for EPO, after which Jimma ‘admitted’ her ADRV and was offered a one year reduction to her ban in return.

Finally, Colombian cyclist Miguel Ángel López has vowed to fight a provisional suspension imposed by the international cycling union (UCI) following an investigation into Dr. Marcos Maynar by the International Testing Agency, the Guardia Civil and the Spanish anti-doping agency (CELAD). 

López was suspended by the Astana Quazaqstan team in July last year after news of the investigation emerged. The suspension was revoked in August, but his contract was terminated in December last year. 

‘Yesterday, I was notified by the UCI of the decision to open proceedings for violation of anti-doping rules, in relation to my alleged use of Menotropin in the Giro d’Italia in 2022, allegedly by virtue of information sent from the summary of Operation ILEX’, read a Statement from López on Instagram. ‘There is no objective evidence of the alleged doping, that all the results of my analyses and my biological passport are negative, and that the undersigned has never received, used or even requested any prohibited substance, neither in the Giro d’Italia, nor ever throughout my sports career, as was also reported at the time to the ITA, with whom this cyclist collaborated as soon as it was required.

‘I want to state that I will use all the legal means at my disposal to clear my name, and that I will request, immediately, that the agreed precautionary suspension be lifted. Such a decision by the UCI, 10 days after the Glasgow Cycling World Championship, a precautionary suspension that not only damages my honour and damages the presumption of innocence of this cyclist, but also damages and harms my entire team, Team Medellin, the Colombian national cycling team, and, ultimately, the good name of the entire international cycling community, by questioning my sports career, without any evidence or adverse analytical results, and without any intervention, detected or found in my possession substance of any kind.’

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).

Decision links

Tia Sarah Tovarlaža, Goran Ćetković (IWF/ITA Sanction List);

Jordan Lavocat (AFLD Decision Statement);

Miguel Ángel López (UCI Statement, Athlete Statement);

Ali Hashemi (Iran NADO Statement);

Hinewai Hausman (STNZ Statement, full Decision);

Fantu Eticha Jimma (AIU List of First Instance Decisions, full Decision);

Jason Servis (USAO Southern Statement);

Craig Campbell (UKAD Statement, full Decision);

Thomas Sterger (NADA Austria Statement, Athlete Statement – ‘I’m a fair athlete! In 2021 my life became a nightmare from one day to the next. An anonymous person had slandered me (I’m part of a doping network), because of which I suddenly had the criminal police in the house, who searched the house, secured my cell phone and laptop and took me for interrogation. After 2 further interceptions, DNA extraction, data analysis of electronics, I was finally able to prove my innocence and was acquitted by the Innsbruck prosecutor in March 2022. In the summer, Nada opened a procedure for an asthma spray found during the house search (20 expired in 2014). This one is from my father’s practice (still living with my parents) and I assure I have never used it! since i check every medicine on the nada app. At the time of the negotiation, I was mentally exhausted, therefore, after consulting with my lawyer, decided not to go to the negotiation. And first got the maximum sentence of 4 years. So I had to find another lawyer who could turn the verdict even better in two more negotiations. Although it’s still unclear to me. The past 2 years I’ve been through hell and been destroyed financially and mentally.Thank you to everyone who has been there and stood by me during this difficult time. Without them I might not be anymore???????? I want to state that I love the sport and respect all my opponents. I have never cheated on anyone! Since I joined the sport 11 years ago, I’m fair and clean!)

Jean-Christophe Blanchet (CCES Statement, full Decision);

Gabriele Zingarelli (NADO Italia Statement)

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