7 May 2023

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – Week ended 5 May 2023

Twenty four athletes from 17 countries, competing in eleven sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light during the week ending 5 May 2023. Cases involved a London 2012 Silver Medalist; a national team footballer; a Figure Skater also involved in a SafeSport investigation; and an Equestrian Jockey and Trainer who admitted doping a horse with steroids.

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

Two of the above cases were concluded without a full hearing. Under Article 10.8.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code, an athlete is entitled to a one year reduction to an otherwise applicable four year ban, if they accept a doping charge within 20 days. The provision allows anti-doping organisations (ADOs) to save money by concluding a case without a hearing (see right). 

ADOs are increasingly pointing this out in letters issued to athletes when they are charged with an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). It is not hard to see how unscrupulous sporting organisations, Coaches, or athlete support personnel might pressure an athlete into accepting an ADRV within 20 days of being charged, as this avoids a hearing and any resulting investigation into the circumstances behind the ADRV.

It would appear that such provisions can also result in sanction inequity. Middle Distance runner Nijel Amos was offered a one year reduction for ‘accepting’ an ADRV involving an illegal and dangerous substance typically used to enhance performance, despite disputing his AAF. Figure Skater Jessica Pfund was sanctioned with a four year ban for an ADRV involving substances normally used for recreational purposes, and was offered no such reduction.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) notified London 2012 800m Silver Medalist Amos about an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) from a 4 June A sample on 12 July 2022. On 15 July, Amos asked for his B sample to be analysed.

On 1 September, Amos was informed that his B sample confirmed the A sample finding – an AAF for GW1516. Development of the PPARδ receptor agonist was abandoned in 2007, after GW1516 was found to cause cancer in rats. An illegal market for the illegal substance has since developed due to its ability to force skeletal muscle to use fat rather than carbohydrates as an energy source. Anti-doping authorities such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Sport Integrity Australia have warned that it is unsafe to use.

On 18 October, Amos asked for a supplement he had been using, which wasn’t declared on his 4 June Doping Control Form, to be analysed for GW1516. On 17 November, two bottles of supplements were delivered to a Laboratory. On 20 January 2023, the AIU provided Amos with a pre-assessment Report from the Laboratory and asked him if he wanted to proceed.

On 17 February, a final Report confirmed that no GW1516 had been detected in the supplement. The AIU gave Amos a deadline of 27 February to explain his AAF, which he failed to meet. On 21 March, it charged him with an ADRV, and told him that he would receive a one year reduction to a four year sanction if he accepted the ADRV within 20 days. 

On 10 April, nine months after he was initially notified about his AAF, he ‘accepted’ his ADRV, and was given a one year reduction to his four year ban. As the ban was backdated to the 12 July 2022 date of his provisional suspension, he had already served nine months of it.

Jessica Pfund was sanctioned with a four year ban for an ADRV involving Amphetamines and Cocaine. In May last year, the US/Swiss Figure Skater alleged that Peter Oppergard had bitten her in 2013 – one of many allegations made against the prominent figure skating Coach resulting in a SafeSport investigation that is understood to be ongoing. Pfund returned her AAF at the Elite Swiss Championships in 2021, before she made the allegations against Oppergard. 

Article 10.2.4 of the Code (click to open).

Amphetamine and Cocaine are usually used recreationally. They can be used to enhance performance, but whether they would have an effect in a sport such as figure skating, where results are subjective to a Judge’s view of the performance, is debatable. The World Anti-Doping Code allows more lenient sanctions if an athlete can prove that their use took place outside of competition and was unrelated to sporting performance. Swiss Sport Integrity didn’t announce details of the case, but it would appear that Pfund wasn’t offered any such reduction.

Signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code have to implement its provisions. As such, a similar provision to Code Article 10.8.1 within the international equestrian federation’s (FEI) rules led to a Trainer and Jockey being given a reduced ban for admitting doping a horse with steroids.

Saudi Arabian Endurance Jockey Albrahim Alyahya and Trainer Khalifa Saad Sharida Mubarak were given a six month reduction to a two year ban after admitting to doping Intruso del Reparo with Boldenone within 20 days of being charged. Neither the Jockey nor the Trainer requested a hearing, and no investigation into the circumstances of the case took place.

Egypt’s Goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy announced that he had been sanctioned with a two month ban by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for an ADRV involving Steroids. ‘Today, the Disciplinary Committee of the CAF decided to acquit me of deliberately doping and only banned me until the 28th of May’, he wrote on Instagram on 4 May. ‘For those who only cared about the madness of the scoop, what followed was news of my suspension or retirement. And for those who care about the truth, the full story and all its details will be announced in the next few days. As explained, I was acquitted of intentionally using any substances to improve performance. There are other important details for my fellow football players and for anyone who cares about professional sport.’

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

Jovan Mujic (ADAS Sanction List);

Alina Marushchak, Rejepbay Rejepov, Aziz Mannai, Jiri Orsag (ITA Statement);

Natasha Rosa Figueiredo (ITA/IWF Sanction List, IWF AAF Statement, CAS Ad Hoc Decision allowing her to compete at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she finished ninth in the 49kg category);

Unnamed Hungarian athlete (HUNADO List of Disciplinary Cases);

Samir Jouaher (AIU List of Provisional Suspensions);

Marc Marquez (USADA Statement);

Anna Teslina (RUSADA Statement);

Alangy Karaa (RUSADA Statement);

Alexander Zhigalov (RUSADA Statement);

Sergey Motov (RUSADA Statement);

Valentin Smirnov (RUSADA Statement, original sanction Statement);

Nijel Amos (AIU Statement, AIU List of First Instance Decisions, AIU Decision);

Esther Macharia (AIU List of First Instance Decisions, full Decision);

Jessica Pfund (Swiss Sport Integrity Statement);

Pejman Karzaei, Behzad Mostafavi (Iran NADO Statement);

Sherif Ekramy (Athlete Instagram Statement);

Breanna Clark (USADA Statement);

Albrahim Alyahya (FEI Statement, full Decision);

Khalifa Saad Sharida Mubarak (FEI Statement, full Decision);

Antonio Cantone (NADO Italia Statement)

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