16 April 2022

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ending 15 April 2022

Eight athletes competing in eight different sports, from four countries, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light this week. The most interesting cases involved a disc golfer who was sanctioned with a two year ban for an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) involving cannabis; an 18 year old tennis player, who has been sanctioned with an 18 month ban for taking Nurofen; and a Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Decision to extend a Jiu Jitsu athlete’s sanction for competing whilst banned.

Yes, disc golf is counted as one of the above-listed eight sports. It involves throwing a flying disc (or ‘frisbee’ for those of us that grew up in the 1980s) at a target basket, while the number of throws required to get the disc in the basket are recorded – in similar fashion to golf. 

What is interesting about the case is that Swiss Sport Integrity issued a two year ban, despite accepting that the disc golfer had proven that cannabis use during competition was unintentional. ‘The person concerned was able to prove that ingestion of the substance during the competition period was unintentional’, read a Statement. ‘By signing the declaration of consent, the disc golfer has admitted the violation and accepted the sanction’.

Article 10.2.4 of the Code (click to open).

The athlete was sanctioned under the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, which includes a ‘substances of abuse’ clause. Cannabis is considered a ‘substance of abuse’ under the 2021 Prohibited List. Under Article 10.2.4 of the Code, a sanction is only reduced to three months if an athlete can establish that their use of a ‘substance of abuse’ took place outside of competition and was unrelated to sporting performance. It can be further reduced down to one month, if the athlete completes a treatment programme approved by the anti-doping organisation concerned. 

‘The disc golf athlete did not use cannabis outside of competition’, wrote a spokesperson in an email. ‘He was banned for two years for using cannabis in competition. Therefore, does not apply. However, the use was not intentional, i.e., not for the purpose of enhancing athletic performance (Art. Therefore, 10.2.2 is applicable and Swiss Sport Integrity has issued a suspension of two years.’

A Statement from the Swiss Disc Golf Association (SDGV) indicates surprise that players were tested at all. ‘The doping control on the weekend of 9/10 October 2021 on the Gurten [Swiss mountain] has led to questions, uncertainties and a lack of understanding among some disc golf players’, it reads. ‘I would also like to point out that doping controls are not carried out on behalf of the SDGV. The independent agency Anti-Doping Switzerland [this was replaced by Swiss Sport Integrity in 2022] selects the sports and athletes for which it wants to carry out a doping control. In comparison to other countries, it is not the organiser or even the association that determines whether active doping controls should be carried out at events.’

There were another couple of interesting decisions during the week. The first involved an 18 year old tennis player, who has been sanctioned with an 18 month ban for taking Nurofen whist on tour in Brazil. ‘Ms. Wan admitted that she had ingested Pseudoephedrine (in the form of Nurofen Cold & Flu tablets, purchased in Spain)’, reads the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Statement. ‘It was accepted that Ms. Wan’s violation was not ‘intentional’, within the meaning of TADP Articles 10.2.1 and 10.2.3, and that she bore No Significant Fault or Negligence for that violation. Accordingly, an eighteen-month period of ineligibility was imposed, which was back-dated to start from 9 March 2022.’

Pseudoephedrine is a stimulant prohibited in competition, unless an athlete holds a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). This harsh sanction underlines why athletes should check medication when competing overseas. Elsa Wan has lost an important part of her career for failing to check a cold medication bought by her mother.

The second involved Jiu Jitsu athlete Ilez Khashagulgov (Илеза Хашагульгова), who was sanctioned with a one year ban by RUSADA for competing whilst banned. Khashagulgov was sanctioned with a three year ban in March last year following an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for an unnamed prohibited substance. As such, his one year ban will be added to the end of his three year ban, meaning he will not be able to compete until 5 November 2024.

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

Elsa Wan (ITF Statement and Decision);

Swiss Disc Golfer (Swiss Sport Integrity Statement; SDGV Statement);

Ilez Khashagulgov (initial ban Statement);

Ilya Bogatyrev;

Sofya Pateli;

Vlada Glazyrina;

David Byblos;

Antonella Fontana

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