7 February 2023

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ended 3 February 2023

Thirteen athletes from seven countries, competing in nine sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light in the week ending 3 February 2023. Cases involved a swimmer discovering his partner was doping after returning an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for a prohibited substance; and a tennis player whose ban was reduced after she found that a pill contained Modafinil.

Markus Thormeyer won a Bronze in the 100m Backstroke at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and has helped Canada to medal in numerous relays. He returned an AAF for LGD-4033, a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) on 7 February 2022, and signed a voluntary provisional suspension form on 15 February.

The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) accepted his explanation that his AAF was caused by drinking from a water bottle used by his partner who, unbeknownst to Thormeyer, was using LGD-4033. It came to this conclusion based on a joint submission by Thormeyer and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), which supported his explanation.

This submission involves an apparent discussion between Thormeyer and his partner, in which his partner confessed to using SARMS in the past and promised to stop using them. However in January 2022 he apparently started using them again, without telling Thormeyer, while the pair were in quarantine due to positive Covid-19 tests. An expert opinion from Dr. Martial Saugy, who was retained by the CCES, concluded that this explanation for the 7 February AAF is possible.

The SDRCC Decision was reached on 9 November last year, but was published by the CCES on 3 February this year. Thormeyer’s one year ban is backdated to his voluntary provisional suspension, and will expire on 15 February this year.

‘Mildronate’ – the brand name of meldonium

Vavara Lepchenko was initially sanctioned with a four year ban ending 19 August 2025, after she failed to prove that an AAF for Adrafinil/Modafinil was not intentional. It was her second anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), however she was judged not to be at fault for a previous ADRV involving Meldonium because although she tested positive in 2016, she was prescribed Mildronate tablets in 2015 – before Meldonium was added to the Prohibited List. For a full analysis of the confusion that the addition of Meldonium/Mildronate to the Prohibited List caused, click here.

On 12 July 2021, Lepchenko returned an AAF for Adrafinil/Modafinil. She initially blamed supplements, none of which were named on her doping control form (DCF). She tested negative seven days prior to 12 July and 15 days after. 

Since her 2016 case, Lepchenko had been consulting with a ‘holistic nutritionalist’ Dr. Aoun. He assured her that the supplements she had been using, none of which were declared on her DCF, were not a risk. The first item recommended on Dr. Aoun’s internet site under ‘fitness’ is ‘Gorilla Mind Turksterone’. He also works with a number of other athletes. 

‘The Tribunal found the evidence provided by the player to be vague to the point of non-existent in respect of what, when and in what does the supplements were taken especially in the period immediately prior to the positive test of 12 July 2021’, reads the initial International Tennis Federation (ITF) Decision. ‘The witness statement did not address this in any detail and the oral testimony did not either, with one notable exception. During oral testimony the Player was able to recall for the first time that she consumed Bemetyl and explained that she had bought it in a shop in Ukraine.’

Bemetyl is understood to be used by Ukrainian teams in preparing for international competition and is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List. However, it remains on the WADA Monitoring Programme, having been added in 2018. It is also listed on Dr. Aoun’s internet site, which perhaps explains the ITF’s suspicion. 

Following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the US Tennis player has now been successful in reducing her four year ban to 21 months. The CAS accepted that after the initial ITF hearing, she had found the bottle of Bemetyl that she alleged to have consumed within the lining of a travel bag. Analysis by two Laboratories confirmed the presence of Adrafinil/Modafinil. 

A separate bottle sourced by the ITF from the Ukrainian manufacturer reported the same result. The ITF accepted that the bottle of Bemetyl was the source of Lepchenko’s AAF, and the CAS brokered a settlement agreement between Lepchenko and the ITF, which negated the need for a full hearing. Lepchenko will be free to compete from 19 May this year.

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

Andréa Campoverde (AFLD Decision);

Norik Ghazayran (AFLD Decision);

Georgina Jepkiuri Rono (ADAK List of Reasoned Decisions, full Decision);

Michele Luigi Rubeis (NADO Italia Statement);

Alessio Manca (NADO Italia Statement);

Raffaele Radice (NADO Italia Statement);

Andrea Mocchi (NADO Italia Statement);

Akmal Ishov (RusAF Statement);

Sheida Shahroozi (NADO Italia Statement);

Hamdy Abdelwahab (UFC Statement);

Markus Thormeyer (CCES Statement; full Decision); Drank water from shared bottle

Dipa Karmakar (ITA Statement, athlete Statement);

Varvara Lepchenko (ITF Statement, full Decision);

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