News 17 June 2022

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ending 17 June 2022

Fifteen people from seven countries, competing in 11 sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light in the past week. The 15 sanctioned people included Tamás Aján and Nicu Vlad, who were sanctioned with life bans due to their roles in corrupting anti-doping procedures whilst President and Vice President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). It is understood that Vlad’s ban was due to his role in allowing Roxana Cocoș to win a Silver Medal at the London 2012 Olympics, despite her being twice provisionally suspended by the IWF for adverse analytical findings (AAFs – or ‘positive tests’).

Marc Shackley…

In the UK, attention focused on Marc Shackley, a Whitehaven rugby league player who had accepted a role as Assistant Coach role at the second tier club, after being advised to retire due to a knee injury that required surgery. Shackley was instructed to lose weight for the 29 October 2021 operation, and purchased ‘fat metabolisers’. Three days later, on 14 September 2021, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) tested him at home and he reported an AAF for Clenbuterol.

Shackley argued that UKAD had no jurisdiction to test him, as he’d informed Whitehaven of his retirement on 23 August 2021 and understood that he was no longer bound by Rugby Football League (RFL) rules. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t the case. Whitehaven and the RFL announced his retirement on 20 September 2021. 

‘It seemed uncontested that there is no clear procedure in the RFL’s Operational Rules to be followed when a player retires’, reads the Decision. ‘The RFL may look into that further’. 

A Statement from Whitehaven expressed the club’s distaste at what it saw as UKAD targeting a player who had been forced to retire on medical advice. ‘Marc was tested in an out of competition test after he had informed the club he had retired from the game’, it read. ‘All the evidence from the club, player, doctors and physios are in his favour but the issue arose as you can be tested by UKAD up to 12 months after your contract finishes or you retirement from the game.

‘The club as well as Marc did not know about this rule as this has never been explained in any pre-season meetings with the RFL. Over the years in competition, Marc has taken at least 1 test a year and passed them all. We see the RFL have now made a rule that retiring players have to inform them of retirement and this was never in place for Marc and seems to have been brought out after this case.’

UKAD didn’t mention whether Shackley was randomly selected for testing, or whether it was acting on intelligence. The Decision makes it clear that Shackley had no idea why he was being tested. He wrote on the Doping Control Form (DCF) “Why my House? Is it random?” That question remains unanswered. But due to his four year ban, Shackley won’t be able to Coach at the club he once Captained and will have to seek alternative employment in retirement.

Shackley’s four year ban wasn’t the only Decision this week that involved a medical procedure. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but it is vital that Goalkeepers have excellent vision. Ivory Coast’s Goalkeeper, Sylvain Gbohouo, was prescribed Vastarel to treat an eye disease on 29 March 2021. On 16 November, he reported an AAF for Trimetazidine, which is a metabolite of the medication. 

Gbohouo accepted that he had reported an AAF and even offered to serve a six month suspension. FIFA accepted that the prescribed medication was the source of the AAF and that he had ingested it unintentionally, but still sanctioned him with an 18 month ban. 

However, interestingly, Gbohouo argued that FIFA’s anti-doping rules (ADR) contravened Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because an athlete accused of an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) is presumed guilty. ‘In the context of art. 6 FIFA ADR, the conception of the presumption of innocence is in fact a purely theoretical concept, devoid of any meaning and deprived of any effect’, argued his defence. ‘Indeed, the presumption of innocence exists prior to the finding of an abnormal analysis but serves no purpose, and it disappears after the same finding without having existed. This is exemplified by the fact that there is no case for reinstatement of an athlete prosecuted under art. 6 FIFA ADR. Only the annulment of the period of Ineligibility can occur, but the athlete is guilty in any event and his name is irreparably damaged.’

Even more interestingly, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee ruled that the above argument should be dismissed ‘without further analysis or detailed explanations’. It did state that ‘the shifting of the burden of proof to the athlete to demonstrate that he or she acted without (significant) fault does not conflict with the presumption of innocence’, and argued that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) have both supported the principle of strict liability.

Finally, it is a little known fact that anti-doping has a ten year Statute of Limitations. This means that anti-doping cases must be begun within ten years of the alleged offence. Perhaps this is the reason that the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the International Testing Agency (ITA) decided to prosecute a case dating back to May 2012. Despite her AAF for Clenbuterol taking place ten years ago, Kim Kil Ok of the Democratic Republic of Korea will be banned from 26 January 2022 to 26 January 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).

Decisions

Kim Kil Ok;

Kirill Ikonnikov;

Ksenia Maximova;

Marc Shackley (Statement, Decision & Whitehaven Statement);

Sylvain Gbohouo (Statement and Decision);

Luigi Angelini;

Sergey Volkov;

Vladislav Grinchuk;

Valeria Volobuyeva;

Regina Mukhametshina;

Alexander Zakharov;

Tamas Ajan & Nicu Vlad (ITA Statement; IWF Statement, CAS Statement);

Felipe Pena (Statement and Statement on first ADRV);

Martina Gottardo

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