UKAD expect widespread challenges

Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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UK anti-doping chiefs expect a deluge of legal challenges to tough new doping sanctions when automatic four-year bans come into force on January 1.

The new world anti-doping code will see the automatic ban for using performance-enhancing drugs doubled from the current two years – but only for intentional use.

A four-year ban will mean missing an Olympics, and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) officials anticipate that athletes who are hit with the full sanction will take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to argue over whether their doping was intentional or not.

UKAD’s legal director Graham Arthur, speaking at a news conference to mark five years since the organisation was established, said: “Four years in an athlete’s career is a lot more to lose so there is more reason to fight.

“The big issue will be receiving a four-year ban if the athlete is judged to have acted intentionally – and ‘acting intentionally’ is subjective and open to interpretation. We anticipate that CAS will be called on to interpret when that applies.

“We are expecting that quite a lot of cases are going to be litigated.”

Arthur believes this will particularly involve where athletes test positive for banned substances contained in supplements, and arguing they had consumed the drugs inadvertently.

Other new parts of the code that could be open to legal challenge cover complicity and association with doping – and these have been described as “very grey areas” by UKAD.

The code bans athletes from associating with coaches or medical staff who have a current doping ban or – such as in the case of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes – have been found guilty in a criminal court of offences related to doping.

Complicity – such as helping a person avoid testers or take drugs – also carries a possible four-year ban.

Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner is accused of helping her ex-boyfriend and Olympic race-walking champion Alex Schwazer, who tested positive for EPO in 2012, avoid drug testers. Kostner has denied wrongdoing.

UKAD announced it prosecuted 21 doping violations in 2014 but almost half of these – 10 cases – came from intelligence gathering rather than testing athletes.

“That’s really pleasing – it shows we are not just reliant on testing and knocking on people’s doors,” said UKAD’s chief executive Andy Parkinson, who moves to take over at British Rowing in January, and who will be replaced on an interim basis by UKAD’s director of operations Nicole Sapstead.

Of the 21 cases, nine were involving rugby union players and four rugby league players – in almost all the cases the people involved were young players, aged 18 or 19, and many aiming to break into the professional game.

They included 19-year-old Rhys Pugsley, one of Wigan Warriors’ and Wales’ most promising forwards who was banned for two years after testing positive for steroids.

Parkinson said the figures reflected a change in society and the fact that intelligence-gathering was working.

He said: “The availability of substances on the internet is growing day by day. Young people now don’t have to meet a dodgy guy down the gym, they can buy them off the internet from the comfort of their armchair and have them delivered the next day.”

There were also three cases involving boxers during 2014, three involving weightlifters and two cyclists, one of whom was former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who is serving a two-year ban for discrepancies in his biological passport.

In August, UK Anti-Doping rejected his claim that irregular blood samples were the result of an alcohol binge. He was stripped of the 2012 Tour of Britain title but maintains his innocence.

Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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