This morning, we start with some news about athletes caught doping. U.S. speed skater Brett Perry “tested positive for Methylphenidate and its metabolite, Ritalinic Acid,” from the sample he provided at the U.S. Olympic Trials on December 28, 2013. Methylphenidate is prohibited by a contingent of anti-doping agencies (USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing; International Skating Union Anti-Doping Rules), both of which adopted the WADA Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. Methylphenidate is a “Specified Substance,” meaning that a reduced sanction (here, nine months, where the maximum penalty is up to two years for a first offense) is possible. Perry did have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), yet he failed to follow the proper protocol that would allow him to use it. Quick explanation of a TUE: an athlete can undergo a process in which he or she may take substances normally banned by an applicable anti-doping agency. Usually, there is some medical reason that allows the an athlete to take the banned substance.
When an athlete tests positive for a banned substance, the period of ineligibility normally begins on the date the sample was collected. Once the date is determined, it is customary to disqualify the athlete from any competitions subsequent to the positive sample. Moreover, the athlete forfeits “any medals, points, and prizes” associated with those competitions. In Perry’s case, he would forfeit his appearance at the 2014 Olympic Trials at Salt Lake City because his sample came before the Trials began, as well as any other competitions since then.
Unfortunately, doping is the theme of this morning, but not for helpful reasons (at least thus far.) 1,500 Olympic Champion Asli Cakir Alptekin thought she was in the clear when the Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) cleared her for competition. If you recall from an earlier post, her provisional ban began last year in May, after “abnormalities were detected in her biological passport” (recall that biological passport in this case is an athlete’s blood profile, not the document needed to pass through international security). Recently, however, IAAF lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The general rule is that if an athlete is cleared for competition by one entity, the athlete can return to competition. If another entity (here, IAAF) files an appeal of the cleared athlete’s status, the athlete will suffer a re-imposed ban, and will not be ineligible to compete. Here, Alptekin’s initial clearance ended once IAAF filed an appeal, thus re-imposing the ban until the matter is resolved by CAS.
Heads up to those who are competing at the Boston Marathon: don’t expect to have access to your bags near the start or finish line. Yesterday, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced that runners “cannot bring backpacks or any similar item carried over the shoulder or handbags of any size.” These items are not permitted near the course, at the start or finish lines, or at marathon events.
It is clear from the article that the attacks from last year’s Boston Marathon encouraged the efforts to “beef up” the security. But how far is too far? The marathon, is scheduled to take place on April 21 of this year, contains a plethora of “don’ts” that people bring, wear or rely on when watching or competing at the event. The items include the following list, pulled from the article:
- Costumes covering the face
- Non form-fitting, bulky outfits
- Glass containers / containers larger than 1 liter
- Suitcases and rolling bags
- Weight vests / any type of vest with pockets (exception: lightweight running vests are permissible)
- Props (including sporting equipment, but this is quite vague, and the article does not explain what that means)
- Military / fire gear
- Signs larger than 11 inches by 17 inches
Runners are allowed to wear “small fancy packs to carry food, medicine, ID, cell phones or other necessary small items.”
Also, here is a warning: if you feel inclined to jump the fence and start running in the race even though you failed to sign up and/or qualify (affectionately known as “bandits,”) reconsider if it is worth it to spend some time in jail before you act on that urge. BAA is cracking down on this by not permitting any “bandits” to join the race. If you don’t have a bib number, then you are there to view the race only.
Finally, here are a few more articles to round out today. Asafa Powell’s verdict will be announced on April 10, two days after his countrywoman Sherone Simpson, who also failed a doping test, will have faced her fate. Carl Lewis, a nine-time Olympic champion and a retired track and field athlete, called out the authorities on anti-doping for their failure to address the doping concerns adequately in his effort to help “safeguard the future of track and field that has seen credibility receive massive hits due to high level doping bursts with leading countries such as Jamaica, Kenya and USA under the spotlight.” If you’ve seen my posts since the start of this blog, then you might notice a trend of doping and anti-doping articles. Lewis is correct: it is not okay to pretend this is not a problem, as this problem could significantly weaken track and field for many.