12 February 2022

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ending 11 February 2022

Twelve athletes from six countries, competing in seven sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light this week. However, the main story involved the postponement of the medal ceremony for the team figure skating at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, due to an ongoing case involving 15 year old Kamila Valieva (Ками́ла Вали́ева). 

On the right is a timeline of events (click to open). Given the international interest in the case, the International Testing Agency (ITA) decided to announce that Valieva had returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for Trimetazidine, an anti-angina medication, from a sample taken at the Russian figure staking championships on Christmas Day. 

However as the Moscow Laboratory is currently suspended, the sample was sent to Stockholm for analysis. As such, Valieva wasn’t notified about her AAF until 8 February this year, after she’d helped the Russian team secure Gold in the team event. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) said that it didn’t announce Valieva’s AAF because she as she is under 16, she is considered a ‘protected person’ under Article 14.3.7 of the World Anti-Doping Code, which means that disclosure of the AAF isn’t mandatory (see right). It blamed delays in sample analysis due to ‘another wave’ of Covid-19 in Sweden.

Valieva hadn’t been notified about her provisional suspension prior to 8 February, so couldn’t have known about her positive test when helping the Russian team win Gold. Her positive test occurred almost two months before the Beijing 2022 Olympics. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Figure Skating Federation (FSSR) point to negative tests both before and after the 25 December AAF, suggesting that Valieva was ‘clean’ when she competed. The ITA and the Russian authorities appear to disagree about whether Valieva’s AAF affects her participation in the Olympic Games.

‘The doping test of an athlete who returns a positive result does not apply to the period of the Olympic Games’, read a statement from the ROC, republished by the FSSR. ‘Given that the athlete’s positive test was not taken during the Olympic Games, the athlete’s results and team competition results during the Olympic Games are not subject to automatic review’.

‘Pursuant to Article 15 of the IOC Anti-Doping Rules applicable to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the decision of RUSADA imposing a provisional suspension automatically prohibited the athlete from participation in all sports during the provisional suspension, including the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022’, reads the ITA’s statement. This interpretation is backed the Beijing 2022 Anti-Doping Rules (click here to download). However as RUSADA only provisionally suspended Valieva on 8 February, the interpretation that her prior results are not affected also appears to be backed by these Rules.

However under the World Anti-Doping Code, a confirmed anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) by a team member can result in the loss of that team’s Gold medal, irrespective of how long after the event an ADRV is confirmed. Similar events have occurred before.

In 2017, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) confirmed that Jamaica would lose its Beijing 2008 Gold medals in the 4x100m after reanalysis of a sample given by Nesta Carter returned an AAF for methylhexaneamine. Methylhexaneamine was not detected in Carter’s sample in 2008 because the Laboratory concerned wasn’t searching for it, since it wasn’t specifically mentioned in the Prohibited List at the time. It didn’t feature until the 2010 Prohibited List was published.

RUSADA has announced that it will investigate Valieva’s entourage. Perhaps it needs to look a little closer to home.

In 2018, Nadezhda Sergeeva came to a settlement agreement with the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) over an ADRV also involving Trimetazidine at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. The Settlement Agreement – a copy of which is held by The Sports Integrity Initiative – reveals that the source of Sergeeva’s AAF was a contaminated supplement. 

As mentioned in last week’s SII Anti-Doping Monitor, Russia’s Federal and Medical Biological Agency (FMBA) is responsible for preparing Russia’s national teams for international competition. A lawsuit was launched by Sergeeva against the FMBA, which had allegedly given her the supplement leading to her AAF. It was dismissed by the State courts.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, punishment for those responsible for doping a ‘protected athlete’ is severe. ‘An Article 2.7 or Article 2.8 violation [Trafficking or Administration] involving a Protected Person shall be considered a particularly serious violation and, if committed by Athlete Support Personnel for violations other than for Specified Substances, shall result in lifetime Ineligibility for Athlete Support Personnel’, reads Article 10.3.3 of the Code. Is the FMBA guilty of again providing contaminated supplements to Russia’s international athletes, but this time involving a minor? A lifetime ban for the FMBA would put its entire Olympic preparation operation at risk.

These questions were sent to The Sports Integrity Initiative by a Russian media organisation (click to open…)

Valieva’s case has become highly politicised, as questions from the Russian media illustrate (see right). Unfortunately, it has also overshadowed another interesting anti-doping case involving a New Zealand born rugby league player competing in the UK.

The 2021 World Anti-Doping Code allows athletes who return an AAF for a ‘substance of abuse’ to reduce a ban down to one month, if they enter a treatment programme. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) announced that Rangi Chase had already served a one month ban following a 5 September 2021 AAF for cocaine, after completing a five day treatment programme.

Chase returned from a previous two year ban for an ADRV involving cocaine in July 2019. The Full Decision for his second ADRV outlines that UKAD didn’t consider it to be a multiple violation, because UKAD’s rules don’t encompass ‘substances of abuse’ as multiple violations.

However, Article 10.9.3 of UKAD’s Anti-Doping Rules (ADR) outline that only an ADRV sanctioned under Article 10.2.4(a) shall not be considered as a ‘multiple violation’. Article 10.2.4(a) only refers to ADRVs sanctioned under the ‘substances of abuse’ provision outlined in the 2021 Code, and must involve the athlete establishing that ingestion or use occurred outside of competition.

Given that Chase’s first ADRV occurred in 2017, before the ‘substances of abuse’ clause was introduced, shouldn’t his second ADRV be considered as a multiple violation? Especially as UKAD’s statement outlines that his AAF occurred in competition? Is there a danger that by loosely interpreting such provisions, sport is letting people with recreational drug issues return to sport after completing a five day treatment programme? Can addiction issues be truly considered solved in five days? What about in four years (the timespan of Chase’s apparent involvement with cocaine)?

Please continue to send any cases we may have missed or suggestions through to our 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

Nick Belzer, Charles Hall, Tristan Pompey, Hector Rodriguez, and Jose Valdez (MLB Statement);

Rangi Chase (Statement, Full Decision, 2017 Decision);

Hossein Saveh Shemshaki;

Kamila Valieva (ITA Statement, WADA Statement, ISU Statement, ROC Statement, FSSR Statement, RUSADA Statement);

Tabitha Gichia Wambui, Taye Girma Arit, Kirill Sukharev and Irina Kolesnichenko Davydova.

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