The trouble with Ostarine: Jimmy Wallhead’s
16th March 2018
Twenty one athletes from ten countries, competing in 17 sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light in the fortnight to 14 April. Cases involved big names such as Boxer Amir Khan, former Light Welterweight World Champion; Footballer Mario Vušković; and two athletes who lost Gold Medals won at the Birmingham 2022 World Games.
In addition, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced that similarities in two Kenyan anti-doping cases suggested a preconceived plan to help Kenyan athletes use forged medical documentation to explain adverse analytical findings (AAFs – or ‘positive tests’). The AIU made its announcement just four days after delivering an Anti-Doping Report to the Kenyan Government, which has committed US$25 million towards tacking doping.
Khan returned an AAF for Ostarine after his bout against Kell Brook on 19 February 2022. Tests by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on 20 and 21 January and by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) on 12 February didn’t report the presence of any prohibited substances.
The concentration of Ostarine in Khan’s sample was 0.5ng/mL. Scientific experts called by Khan and UKAD disagreed on whether, given Khan’s negative test on 12 February, it was possible that he had administered a pharmacologically effective dose.
Khan argued that UKAD didn’t notify him of his AAF until 6 April, which made it difficult to identify the source of Ostarine. It was established that he was taking 14 supplements at the time of his AAF, but the Decision outlined that his Doping Control Form ‘appeared to list about 8 or 10 supplements’.
The Decision also outlined that ‘with respect to human contact, absorption of Ostarine through the skin is possible’. However, Khan was unable to establish the source, and so was sanctioned with a two year ban expiring on 6 April next year. The Boxer, now retired, is scheduled to appear on UK reality TV show ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here! South Africa’ from 24 April.
There have been a number of cases involving athletes being sanctioned due to consuming supplements contaminated with Ostarine. Of the 832 supplements listed on USADA’s Supplement Connect High Risk List, 59 (7%) contain Ostarine.
Last month, Footballer Mario Vušković was sanctioned with a backdated two year ban by the German football association (DFB) for an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) involving Erythropoietin (EPO). The Croatian and his club announced that they would appeal the ban. They have been joined by Germany’s national anti-doping agency (NADA Deutschland), which will appeal to extend the ban to four years.
Two Gold medals and one Bronze medal were lost by three athletes competing at the Birmingham 2022 World Games due to ADRVs. A Gold medal in the Lacrosse Outdoors Sixes final, won by Canadian Madalyn Baxter, was disqualified due to an ADRV involving Canrenone, a diuretic. However the rest of the Canadian Women’s Team, who won Gold, will be allowed to keep their medals. A Gold Medal won by Sveva Melillo in the -54kg Muaythai category, will also be disqualified after the Italian reported an ADRV for the same substance.
Francesca Parrello will lose a Bronze medal won in the Equipped Heavyweight Women event. The Italian has also been sanctioned with a three year ban by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).
Finally, similarities between the cases of Eglay Nafuna Nalyanya and Betty Lempus have led the AIU to conclude that elite Kenyan athletes are being assisted by somebody with medical knowledge to cover up AAFs. ‘It is obvious from the almost identical wording of parts of the letter from the supposed doctor (Dr Philip Murey) in the Lempus case that it was written by the same individual as the equivalent letter in the present case’, reads the Nalyanya Decision.
‘The Lempus letter was written a month before the letter from Dr Davis Lukorito Wanambisi in the present case. The pattern of behaviour is remarkably similar in both cases. There is no possibility in our view that the Athlete in the present case had the sophistication or medical knowledge either to draft the letter from Dr Davis Lukorito Wanambisi nor the email of 24 March 2022, nor indeed to set up the scheme employed in the present case.’
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).
Moustafa Abo Nasser, Fernando Marcelo Soria Ojeda, Nathan Walton, Danzan Tuvshintugs, Diego Esteban Soria Ojeda, Aaron Sloane, Tetiana Zhydkova (IPF Sanction Registry);
Pallavi Jagadale (NADA India Sanction List);
Madalyn Baxter, Sveva Melillo (IWGF Statement);
Mario Vuskovic (NADA Deutschland Statement);
Micael Galvão (USADA Statement);
Norah Jeruto (AIU List of Provisional Suspensions);
Mikkel Dreyer Videbaek (NADO Italia Statement);
Pietro Caliendo (NADO Italia Statement);
Tyler Burdick (USADA Statement);
Andreas Sargent Larson (NADO Italia Statement);
Enrico Lorenzin (NADO Italia Statement)
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