30 July 2022

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ending 29 July 2022

Just four athletes competing in four sports, from two countries, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light this week. An unfolding investigation in Portugal means that the spotlight is likely to focus on professional cycling once again. Although it has yet to be officially confirmed exactly which cyclists are involved, the international cycling union (UCI) suspended the W52-FC Porto team’s licence due to a Police investigation into doping, which has already involved the provisional suspension of eight of the team’s cyclists.

The UCI, perhaps keen not to distract attention from the Tour des Femmes, has yet to make an announcement. W52-FC Porto’s licence suspension was confirmed via a Statement from the Portuguese cycling federation (FCP). Previously, on 25 July, a team Statement confirmed that eight of its 12 team members had been provisionally suspended. 

It is understood that Portugal’s anti-doping agency (ADoP) provisionally suspended the eight riders on 15 July. On 16 July, six W52-FC Porto riders were withdrawn from the Grand Prix Douro Internacional, leading media to speculate about the identity of six of the eight that had been provisionally suspended.

The suspensions are due to Operação Prova Limpa [Operation ‘Clean Test’], which took place at the end of April. ‘In this action, accompanied by Prosecutors, two arrests were made and several dozen home and non-home searches were carried out in various regions of the national territory, targeting Managers, Athletes and facilities of one of the teams in competition’, read a Statement from Portugal’s Judicial Police. ‘During the investigation, several substances and clinical instruments were seized, used in the training of athletes and with an impact on their sporting performance’. Football club FC Porto confirmed it has provisionally suspended its sponsorship of the team while investigations continue.

Police information also led UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) into sanctioning an ex-professional Rugby Union player for attempted trafficking of a substance he never actually bought or possessed. Police investigations into the supply of doping revealed private Facebook messages sent by Christopher Mayor asking an individual whether he had any 72iu Lilly Pens, which contain a Human Growth Hormone (HGH). The messages were sent in 2018, when Mayor was an amateur Player and Coach with Southport. 

UKAD wasn’t able to prove that Mayor ever acquired the pens and so an attempt to charge him with possession failed. As such, so did UKAD’s attempt to charge him with trafficking a prohibited substance, as you can’t traffick something you don’t possess. However, due to the context of the Facebook messages, which are heavily redacted in the Decision, the Sport Resolutions Panel was satisfied that he’d attempted to use and attempted to traffick the 72iu Lilly Pens, as his final Facebook message ‘demonstrated an intention to sell pens to others’.

A Sport Resolution Decision on sanctions rejected the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) application for a five year ban on the basis that ‘the Attempted Trafficking was not directed at other players or other sports’, raising questions about who he intended to sell the pens to. Mayor has never returned a positive test. There is no evidence that he ever possessed a prohibited substance. He was sanctioned with a four year ban on the basis of intent to purchase and sell the 72iu Lilly Pens. 

‘The Player took a substantial step in a course of conduct that was intended to culminate in the Use of a Prohibited Substance – he contacted [redacted] and asked him about the availability of 72iu Lilly Pens, he asked for information about delivery and said that although he initially only wanted 1 pen for his personal Use, he intended to acquire some more for sale to others’, reads the Decision. ‘He then followed up this initial exchange one month later. Although the Player consistently denied that he had intended to sell the pens to others, that denial did not ring true given the clear words in his message to [redacted] and his follow up message on 13 September 2018. Although the Player may well have changed his mind about acquiring the pens after he sent his 13 September 2018 message, that does not alter the fact that prior to 13 September 2018 he had taken substantial steps in his attempt to purchase 72iu Lilly Pens from [redacted] and to traffick those pens to others.’

Josè Luis Palomino, a footballer with newly-promoted Serie A team Atalanta, was provisionally suspended ahead of yesterday’s friendly with Newcastle United. A club Statement outlined that Palomino has requested analysis of his B sample.

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

Daniel Nicola De Benedetto (NADO Italia Statement);

Jose Luis Palomino (NADO Italia Statement & club Statement);

Marco Cecchinato (NADO Italia Statement);

Christopher Mayor (UKAD Statement, Decision, and Decision on sanctions)

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