7 March 2023

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

Ten athletes from six countries, competing in seven sports, were involved in anti-doping procedures that came to light during the week ending 3 March 2023. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) used a case involving cyclist Katerina Nash to highlight that anti-doping rules need to change. Nash is Vice President of the international cycling union (UCI) and returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for Capromorelin, a substance that isn’t specifically named on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, after administering Entyce medication to her dog.

‘Rubi was given this liquid medication during her last couple weeks and it was messy; sometimes she would refuse it and spit out the sticky liquid’, Nash wrote on Instagram (below). ‘Hygiene and rapid hand washing was not on my mind at this point. The risk of transdermal exposure to pet medication was also not something I considered. A few weeks after Rubi’s passing I received news of an out of competition test that contained Capromorelin; I quickly researched it and found out it was in Rubi’s medication.’


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A post shared by Katerina Nash (@katkanash)

“If there is no question that an athlete comes into contact with a prohibited substance from a completely innocent source and there is no effect on performance, USADA continues to advocate that there should not be a violation or a public announcement”, said Travis Tygart, Chief Executive Officer of USADA in a Statement. “The rules must change and all of us must wake up and demand a more fair and just global anti-doping system that catches and sanctions intentional cheats who rob clean athletes but does not railroad innocent athletes”.

Conor Benn also hit back at testing procedures in boxing, after being cleared of anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) by the World Boxing Council (WBC) last week. ‘At no point did I indicate that I had failed any VADA [Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency] tests because of contaminated eggs’, he wrote in a two part Statement on Twitter (below). ‘As part of its lengthly investigation, the WBC instructed its own experts to review my supplements and diet, and they concluded that egg contamination was the most likely cause.

However, I feel like the WBC Statement did a disservice to my defence […] which set out a number of reasons why we believed the results were completely unreliable, and proved beyond any reasonable doubt that I am innocent. The report prepared by my science and legal team contained extensive analysis of both tests and concluded that there was clear evidence of fundamental flaws and irregularities. 

‘Let me be absolutely clear though; my defence is not a technical defence to exploit a loophole’, continues Part 2 of the Statement (below). ‘I am convinced the substance was never in my system and I certainly never knowingly ingested it. I am told it is something that supposedly stays in the body for months, and yet barely a week after failing a VADA test, I passed a UKAD [UK Anti-Doping] test.

‘At some point, I want to make a stand on behalf of athletes who may find themselves in a similarly devastating position to me, but without the expertise or resources to clear their name. Everything I have learnt during this process from talking to many experts gives me serious concerns about the whole testing system in the sport.’

Article 10.8.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code (click to open…)

There are further signs that athletes are beginning to fight back against the strict liability proceedings that hold them responsible for any prohibited substance in their system – no matter the circumstances. Strict athlete liability is convenient for corrupt Coaches and Officials, especially since the 2021 edition of the World Anti-Doping Code made it easier for them to blame athletes and avoid an investigatory hearing.

Article 10.8.1 allows an athlete a one year reduction to a four year ban if they accept an anti-doping charge within 20 days. It was designed to save anti-doping organisations money by avoiding the need for a costly hearing, however it is not hard to see how corrupt Coaches and Officials could pressure athletes into accepting such a charge to avoid the investigatory process a hearing necessitates.

Kazakh weightlifter Nijat Rahimov (Нижат Раxимов) is appealing against a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Decision that cost him a Rio 2016 Gold medal and sanctioned him with an eight year ban, reports InsideTheGames. Rahimov has maintained that he was not aware of a plan by Kazakh weightlifting coaches involving the use of doppelgängers to take anti-doping tests. 

‘I regret that my arguments of no involvement were not accepted by the arbitrator in the hearing last August’, he posted on Instagram in March last year, after the CAS Decision was published. ‘They also did not evaluate the actions of those people who sampled and were generally responsible for this process. After all, the questions should be addressed to them and their leaders, who, as time has shown, were far from clean-handed people! All of this raises a lot of questions, and they, so far, have remained unanswered.’

The CAS Decision found that Kazakh national team coaches Aleksey Ni and Victor Ni were both involved in the use of doppelgängers to provide urine samples on behalf of Kazakh weightlifters. Neither coach was mentioned in the McLaren Global Sport Solutions Report into corruption in weightlifting, and neither appear to have faced disciplinary action. It is not known which part of the CAS Decision Rahimov is appealing.

In countries where involvement in doping is criminalised, penalties for facilitating athlete doping can be severe. Italy’s anti-doping prosecutor (PNA) sanctioned Alessandro Giuliani with a ten year ban ending on 1 October 2033 for possessing prohibited substances with intent to supply an athlete, as well as for trafficking. Giuliani, a cyclist, was sanctioned as an athlete support person.

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

MV Jilna (AIU List of sanctioned persons);

Aishwarya Babu (NADA India Decision);

Federico Rispoli (NADO Italia Statement);

Swiss recreational American Footballer (SSI Statement);

Oney Tapia (NADO Italia Statement);

Andrea Pizzeghella (NADO Italia Statement);

Mattias Dam Gningue (NADO Italia Statement);

Alessandro Giuliani (NADO Italia Statement);

Katerina Nash (USADA Statement);

Justine Beve (IPC Statement)

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