13 September 2022

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ending 9 September 2022

Twenty five athletes from nine countries, competing in 12 sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light during the past week. Interesting cases involved seven year bans issued to a Kenyan distance runner and a Georgian shot-putter; two Russian cases involving the reversal of previous Decisions resulting in more stringent sanctions; positive tests involving five unnamed Iranian athletes; a prison sentence given to a horse doper; and a Swiss police investigation leading to a ban for a UK cyclist for multiple prohibited substance use.

Kenyan distance runner Vane Nyaboke Nyanambe was sanctioned with a seven year and four month ban following an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for metabolites of Nandrolone, plus an additional charge of tampering. Her ban was reduced from eight years under a Case Resolution Agreement (CRA) published by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics.

Article 10.8.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code…

When an athlete admits an ADRV, Article 10.8.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code allows ADOs to offer an athlete a reduced sanction in return for a CRA, which involves the athlete accepting the Decision as not being subject to appeal. It is similar to Article 10.8.1, which allows an athlete a one year reduction to a ban if they admit the ADRV and accept the consequences within 20 days. 

Both options are designed to resolve cases without the need for a full hearing. However it is not hard to see how Article 10.8.1 – in particular – could be utilised to avoid investigations into systemic doping.

Benik Abramyan received a one year reduction to an eight year ban after admitting an ADRV involving three prohibited substances within 20 days. It was his second offence. 

The Georgian shot-putter returned an AAF ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The AIU’s Decision concluded that ‘the Adverse Analytical Finding provides evidence that the Athlete used multiple Prohibited Substances that are potent anabolic agents as part of a sophisticated doping programme targeted at the Olympic Games’. 

Abramyan admitted the ADRVs and accepted any consequences ten days after receiving a letter from the AIU, despite it not specifying what consequences he would face. He did not request analysis of his B sample, or a hearing. 

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

As the AIU doesn’t comment on investigations, it is impossible to determine if it is investigating whether Coaches or Athlete Support Personnel were responsible for the ‘sophisticated doping programme’ it suggests. But in allowing athletes to accept the blame without an investigation into the circumstances behind an ADRV, is Article 10.8.1 of the Code compromising the requirement for ADOs to fully investigate instances of doping – especially systemic or State sponsored doping – as outlined in the World Anti-Doping Code? 

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has faced years of criticism due to allegations that it is an agent of the Russian State complicit in covering up doping. However, two Decisions during the past week suggest that things may have changed.

Firstly, RUSADA reversed its previous Decision to clear cyclist Alexander Yevtushenko (Александра Евтушенко) of whereabouts violations, imposing a 14 month ban. Secondly, it extended the disqualification of results applicable to Nikolay Sedyuk (Николая Седюка). The Discus athlete was originally sanctioned with a four year ban in March this year, but the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) only cancelled his results from 5 March 2015 to 4 March 2019. 

This allowed him to keep the Gold he won at the 2013 Russian Athletics Championships. A new RUSADA Decision cancelled his results from 20 June 2012 to 4 March 2015. This means his results from 20 Jun 2012 to 4 March 2019 will now be cancelled, and he will lose his 2013 Gold medal.

Iran’s National Anti-Doping Agency (Iran NADO) announced that five athletes, as yet unnamed, returned AAFs for various prohibited substances. ‘According to Paragraph 14.3 of the Laws of Iran NADO, the name of the athletes will be confidential until the end of the legal deadline for the right to appeal’, read a Statement. The anti-doping community should perhaps investigate why Iran NADO Statements appear to be inaccessible from IP addresses based in the UK or the USA.

After the Russian State doping scandal, the definition of Doping Control was expanded in the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recognised that investigations – rather than the testing system – expose determined doping cheats and systemic doping. Russian State doping, Operation Aderlass, Operation Puerto, systemic doping within the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and more – all involved investigations and cooperation with law enforcement.

Yet WADA has been historically resistant to the criminalisation of doping – especially measures taken by US authorities. Yet examples continue to illustrate that the involvement of law enforcement in anti-doping helps broaden the scope of anti-doping investigations.

In January this year, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) brought its fist charges under the Rodhchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) against self-styled therapist Eric Lira. The charge sheet detailed ‘Athlete 1’ and ‘Athlete 2’ as being supplied by Lira. Details in the charge sheet outed ‘Athlete 1’ as Blessing Okagbare, and the Nigerian sprinter was later sanctioned with a ten year ban by the AIU. Under anti-doping jurisprudence, Okagbare would have been sanctioned with a four year ban that may have been reduced to three years on acceptance, and the activities of Lira may never have been exposed. 

During the past week, the DoJ sentenced Lisa Giannelli with a 42-month prison sentence for selling ‘untestable’ substances to racecourse owners. A total of 27 people were charged under indictments unsealed by the DoJ in 2020, which dismantled a major horse doping ring.

In 2018, Shaun Leonard was stopped by Swiss Police at the border with Italy. A number of prohibited substances were found, and Leonard said that all the substances belonged to him. He was travelling to support another cyclist, John Vardy, who was competing at the UCI 2018 Gran Fondo World Championships.

On 24 June 2020, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) charged Leonard with an ADRV. However, Leonard apparently disputed UKAD’s jurisdiction by launching County Court proceedings. 

‘On 15 June 2022, we were provided with a copy of an order of County Court at Manchester (HHJ Evans) dated 26 May 2022 whereby the Respondent’s claim was ordered to be stayed under section 9 of the Arbitration Act 1996 until the conclusion of these (arbitral) proceedings’, reads the UKAD Decision. ‘The said order was consequent upon Judge Evans finding that the Respondent was subject to the ADR’.

The Sports Resolutions Panel ruled that the ‘sole purpose’ of the civil proceedings was to stop UKAD’s case against him. This May 2022 case is referred to by a Shaun Leonard on Twitter (see below).

A UKAD spokesperson denied that it was involved in a court case relating to the 2017 death of young elite cyclists, as referred to in the above tweet. ‘UKAD is unclear as to what the Tweet dated 2 May 2022 at 9:50am purports to refer to’, wrote a UKAD spokesperson via email. The owner of the above Twitter account did not respond to questions.

In 2018, Leonard filed for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) for Testosterone; Dexamfetamine; Lisdexamfetamine; Morphine; and Modafinil. UKAD told him that he would need to apply for a retroactive TUE if he returned an AAF for any of these substances in the future. However UKAD has, in the past, refused retroactive TUEs for an asthma inhaler and for acne medication. 

Irrespective of this, Leonard apparently confessed to the use of multiple prohibited substances in a 2018 UKAD interview. He was sanctioned with a four year ban expiring 24 June 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

Shahd Abdallah (FINA List of Sanctioned Swimmers);

Ilyas Bekbulatov (Athlete Instagram post about stay of Provisional Suspension, original Decision);

Vane Nyaboke Nyanambe (AIU List of First Instance Decisions, full Decision);

Five unnamed Iranian athletes (Iran NADO Statement);

Timothy Hearn (USADA Statement);

Juan-Carlos Osorio Hernández (ITIA Statement);

Liam Jenkins (UKAD Statement, full Decision);

Richard Browne (USADA Statement);

Alexander Yevtushenko (RUSADA Statement, original Decision);

Viktor Togoev (RUSADA Statement);

Anastasia Kireeva (RUSADA Statement);

Nikolai Sedyuk (RUSADA Statement, original RUSADA Statement on ban, and RusAF Statement on disqualification of results)

Nikolai Vasiliev (RUSADA Statement);

Yevgenia Zharova (RUSADA Statement);

Igor Samorodov (RUSADA Statement);

Shaun Leonard (UKAD Statement, full Decision);

Lisa Giannelli (DoJ Statement);

Mohamed Hajjy (NADO Italia Statement);

Max Stocchino (NADO Italia Statement);

Benik Abramyan (AIU List of First Instance Decisions, full Decision);

Fabio Turchi (NADO Italia Statement)

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