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The Olympic Doping Update Thread

Sleepy Giant

TRIBE Member
This thread will provide an update of all postitive doping tests related to the Torino Winter Olympiad.

We'll kick things off with a good ol kid from Thunder Bay.

Canadian Crooks to miss opening race
Canadian Press

2/9/2006 6:23:19 PM

PRAGELATO, Italy (CP) - Canadian cross-country skier Sean Crooks will not be allowed to compete in Sunday's 30-kilometre double pursuit race at the Winter Olympics after tests showed high hemoglobin levels in his blood.

Crooks, 22, of Thunder Bay, Ont., was among eight athletes given a "five-day start prohibition" Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

Riikka Rakic, communication manager for FIS, said Crooks could be eligible to take part in his next race - Tuesday's men's team sprint - provided he passes another blood test.

"The ban would be lifted if the levels drop," said Rakic.

Crooks, who was the only Canadian on the list, is scheduled to compete in three other races at the Olympics: sprint, 15-kilometre classic and 4x10-kilometre relay. The sprint is his best event.

FIS said the five-day prohibition is not considered a sanction, but is implemented to protect the athlete. High hemoglobin levels are sometimes caused by abuse of the endurance-enhancing drug EPO. But Rakic said other factors, like dehydration or training at high altitudes, can also cause hemoglobin levels to increase.

Chris Dornan, a spokesman for the Canadian cross-country team, said Crooks has naturally high hemoglobin levels and consistently tests high but has never received a ban before. Dornan said Crooks' hemoglobin level Thursday was 17.3. The limit is 17.0.

It's not the first time a Canadian athlete has been prohibited from competing because of abnormal blood, even though there wasn't a positive drug test.

Canadian cyclist Genevieve Jeanson was not allowed to ride in the road race of the 2003 world championship in Hamilton because the hematocrit levels - the volume of red cells - in her blood were above that allowed by the international cycling federation.

She was not allowed to race until subsequent tests came back negative for banned substances.

FIS said 224 cross country and nordic combined athletes have been tested in two days of pre-competition testing.

Other athletes to receive start prohibitions Thursday were Sergey Dolidovich of Belarus, Jean Marc Gaillard of France, Aleksandr Lasutkin of Belarus, Natalia Matveeva of Russia, Kikkan Randall of the U.S., Evi Sachenbacher of Germany and Leif Zimmermann of the U.S.

So does this mean he was blood doping???

Sleepy Giant

TRIBE Member
Don't lose your hair or you'll lose the olympics.
U.S. Olympian Lund banned from Olympics

Canadian Press

2/10/2006 10:17:37 AM

CESANA, Italy (AP) - Zach Lund, the top slider on the U.S. skeleton team, was banned from the Turin Olympics on Friday for taking a common hair-restoration pill that can be used to mask steroids.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Lund should serve a one-year suspension, retroactive to Nov. 10 and enforced immediately.

Lund told the court he was misled by the website for the governing body of his sport, which listed finasteride both as a "prohibited substance" and a "specified substance." Lund said he failed to check the prohibited list in 2005.

The panel believed Lund and wrote in its ruling that "it was entirely satisfied that Mr. Lund was not a cheat."

"But, unfortunately, in 2005, he made a mistake," the court wrote.

Last month, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency decided Lund deserved only a public warning for ingesting finasteride and should forfeit his second-place finish from the season's opening World Cup event in Calgary, where he tested positive.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency wanted a tougher sanction and appealed to the court, which partially agreed. WADA asked for a two-year ban. Lund will be able to compete again on Nov. 9, but will not have to forfeit any other results from this season aside from Calgary.

The decision - issued hours before Lund was to participate in the Olympic opening ceremony - is another blow to the reeling U.S. skeleton program, which has endured recent scandals prompting the departure of both coach Tim Nardiello and now its top slider in Lund, who led the World Cup standings at one point this season.

The U.S. still should be able to have three sliders in the men's skeleton event on Feb. 17. Eric Bernotas and Kevin Ellis will now likely be joined by Chris Soule, who was seventh at the Salt Lake Olympics four years ago.

Skeleton racers slide headfirst on a thin sled down the same track used for bobsled and luge, at speeds exceeding 110 km/h.

The court heard WADA's appeal on Thursday afternoon at a Turin hotel. Lund attended with his lawyer, Howard Jacobs. WADA participated in the hearing via a conference call.

WADA has authorization to appeal any doping-related sanction that it finds too lenient or incorrect.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation now finds itself dealing with more drama.

Last year's World Cup champion Noelle Pikus-Pace missed the first half of this season after breaking her leg in Calgary when an out-of-control U.S. bobsled smashed into her.

On Dec. 31, Nardiello was suspended over sexual harassment allegations; he was later reinstated but ultimately fired after ignoring orders to stay away from the American team during its final Olympic preparations in St. Moritz, Switzerland last week.

And Lund's saga began on Dec. 15 in Sigulda, Latvia, when he learned of the positive test. He was later barred from two races by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) over the test, which the USBSF did not promptly report to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Finasteride has been on the banned list since 2005; Lund has said he last checked the list in 2004 because the product was legal for the first four years of his usage.

Two athletes, Argentine tennis player Mariano Hood and German soccer player Nemanja Vucicevic, were banned for taking the same drug last year.

FYI: Finasteride is Propecia, which dovetails nicely into the next story.

Sleepy Giant

TRIBE Member
Theodore's hair tonic causes positive test

The Montreal Canadiens announced Thursday that goaltender Jose Theodore tested positive for a substance on the WADA banned substance list.

Head Team Physician, Dr. David Mulder, discussed details of the test.

Theodore tested positive for the hair restoration drug, Propecia, which is not an anabolic steroid but does act as a masking agent. Mulder stated that Theodore has been using the product for "eight to nine years."

"He's been taking it on the advice of a dermatologist," Mulder told the assembled media. "And he has had very good success and he feels it has helped hair growth and prevented further loss and he has taken it with my knowledge."

Mulder went on to joke that Theodores' thick head of hair should be a good advertisement for Propecia's benefits.

Mulder went on to say that Propecia, on its own, does not have any performance-enhancing attributes; it simply grows hair. According to Mulder, Propecia will stay in one's system for more than 30 days.

"Jose was unaware, until recently, that Propecia was a banned substance," said Mulder.

''I always like my hair real long and I like to keep it long as long as possible,'' said Theodore, who served as backup in a 3-2 win over Buffalo Thursday as Cristobal Huet made his fifth consecutive start.

''I don't feel I have anything to hide,'' Theodore said. ''It's not something that I got on the black market. It was a prescription from the doctor for eight years, so I don't feel uncomfortable by anything.''

This type of issue is front and centre at the Olympics in Turin today.

U.S. skeleton racer Zach Lund of Salt Lake City, a potential gold medal favorite, was in an arbitration hearing today to determine his Olympic eligibility because of a failed test that turned up the same "masking agent" that is associated with hair loss products. Lund said the positive test was because he was taking the product for hair loss. A ruling on his eligibility for the Olympics is expected by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, Monaco bobsledder Sebastien Gattuso was suspended over a positive test for a hair-restoration drug banned because of its steroid-masking properties.

Monaco's anti-doping committee suspended Sebastien Gattuso for six months after he tested positive in October for finasteride.

Theodore, 29, has struggled this season, posting a 17-15-5 record with a 3.46 goals against average and .881 save percentage.

Mulder stated that Theodore's test was administered on December 12, 2005 and the results were revealed January 14, 2006.

Unlike the Bryan Berard situation – the American-born NHLer who last month received a two-year international hockey ban as a result of a positive test for an anabolic steroid – this case has yet to fully work its way through the procedural system and, in fact, Theodore has yet to have his appeal heard by an arbitrator.

Which is to suggest it's still an open file and, at this point, the final outcome of this case remains in doubt.

Sources in Turin tell TSN an arbitrator has been named to hear the appeal, but that no date has yet to be scheduled for that hearing, which will be heard by the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. The arbitrator will hear the case and rule either in favor of the player or against him. If the ruling is favorable to the player, no announcement is forthcoming. If, however, the arbitrator's decision goes against the player's appeal, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport will make the player's name public and announce the appropriate sanctions, which at worst includes a two-year ban on international hockey. None of the various governing bodies who preside over the broad spectrum of athlete testing and doping control are permitted to identify any player or athlete until such time the appeal process is completed and only if the athlete's appeal is rejected.

If the Berard case is any indication, even if Theodore were to be sanctioned internationally, it would have no impact on his NHL status as the NHL has decided pre-Olympic testing conducted prior to the Jan. 15, 2006, institution of the league's drug-testing program is not recognized as a violation of the league program.

This was made certain in a press release from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

"Today's announcement will not impact Jose Theodore's eligibility to play in the National Hockey League, regardless of the ultimate resolution of the ongoing appeal proceedings before the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (the "CCES")," Daly said in the statement.

"Mr. Theodore also will not risk NHL sanctions as a result of any future positive test for this particular substance within the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program because he made a timely and proper application for a Therapeutic Use Exemption for his longstanding medically prescribed use of Propecia. The Program Committee for the NHL/NHLPA Program granted that application after concluding that there is no basis on which to question the appropriateness of Mr. Theodore's use of this widely-used hair restoration medication.

"NHL sanctions would not be applicable for Mr. Theodore's CCES test result for the additional reason that such test was administered during the player educational period mandated by the CBA and prior to the effectiveness of the NHL/NHLPA testing program."

NHLPA Executive Director Ted Saskin issued the following statement supporting Jose Theodore.

"It is very clear that Jose Theodore is taking Propecia for the sole purpose of treating hair loss. Since Propecia is a prescription product that is banned as a masking agent but can be approved in situations where it is prescribed for hair restoration purposes, players may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

"Prior to the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program commencing, Jose applied for a TUE in order to continue to use a medication that he has taken for many years, and the Program Committee approved this application. The NHLPA will fully support Jose as he goes through the necessary administrative process with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada to clear up this matter."

To fully understand where this specific situation is at, one must have some understanding of the rules and procedure for the testing of Olympic athletes.

The CCES is the designated body in this country that carries out Olympic drug testing on behalf of the International Olympic Committee.

Once Hockey Canada named its 81-man Olympic eligibility list in the fall, any player on that list was eligible to be randomly tested by the CCES.

The CCES is entitled to collect a sample in the six months leading up to the Olympics. For players who were named to the final Olympic team roster, every one of them is tested prior to the Olympics. As for pre-Olympic testing, the sample is sent to an approved laboratory in Montreal, where the sample is analyzed for prohibited substances on the WADA list.

If a positive test occurs, termed an "adverse analytic finding (AAF)," the CCES swings into action. It contacts the player to inform him of the AAF, it contacts the governing body for the sport – in this case it's Hockey Canada – and the CCES immediately conducts an initial in-house review. The athlete is given an opportunity to explain himself and the CCES reviews all forms and information supplied at the time of testing.

One of the key elements of the testing protocol is a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) form, which gives the athlete an opportunity prior to testing to list all drugs, medications and supplements that the athlete uses as part of treating medical or health issues. If the positive test, or AAF, is as a result of something on the TUE form, it allows the CCES to instantly see what may have caused the positive test. The CCES has an in-house tribunal which assesses these situations and has the power to either dismiss the positive test or proceed with discipline, depending upon what's listed on the TUE.

If, however, there is no TUE filed or the prohibited substance in question is not related to any items on the TUE, then the CCES moves to the next stage, which is to formally assert a violation and propose a penalty, which more often than not is a two-year ban from international competition, although it varies depending upon the severity of the violation.

At that point, the athlete has two options. Either waive the right to an appeal and accept the punishment or contest the CCES ruling by requesting an appeal.

If the appeal is requested, it is submitted to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), which appoints an independent arbitrator to hear the case. The athlete, as well as the athlete's governing body (in this case Hockey Canada), get standing in the appeal as does the CCES. The appeal is heard and the arbitrator must make a final and binding ruling within 20 days of the hearing.

If the athlete's appeal is ruled on favorably by the SDRCC arbitrator, the matter is closed and the athlete's name is never revealed. If, however, the arbitrator rules against the athlete's appeal, the CCES formally and publicly announces the violation and the sanctions.

There is one final avenue of appeal for the athlete and that is to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

As for this specific case, sources say Theodore is currently waiting for a hearing with the SDRCC arbitrator.
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Zach Lund


Jose Theodore



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Sleepy Giant

TRIBE Member
Pyleva stripped of biathlon silver

Associated Press

2/16/2006 11:01:23 AM

CESANA, Italy (AP) - Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva has been thrown out of the Torino Olympics and stripped of her silver medal in the 15km event for doping.

Pyleva was scratched from the field just before the start of the 7.5km sprint, in which she was considered a leading medal contender. She also won gold and bronze medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

The drug she tested positive for was the banned stimulant carphedon, said Nikolai Durmanov, head of the Russian Anti-Doping Committee. He said a doctor who treated her for an ankle injury in January gave her an over-the-counter medication that did not list carphedon as one of its ingredients.

"This was 100 per cent the physician's mistake," Durmanov said.

Germany's Martina Glagow will be awarded the silver in the 15km event and Albina Akhatova, Pyleva's Russian teammate, will be awarded bronze.

"It's a bad thing that somebody is testing positive, but it's a good thing we got her," World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said.

The head of Russia's biathlon federation, Alexander Tikhonov said athletes have been told repeatedly only to use medications approved by team doctors.

"We warned them a thousand times and again," he told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency. "Take only medical formulas that are in the team and come only to our doctors. I have no idea where that doctor who treated Pyleva's foot injury came from."

Tikhonov maintained Pyleva used an "innocent" substance to accelerate healing and has no performance-enhancing properties.

"One has to admit that all should be blamed on our illiteracy and irresponsibility," he said.

Under the IOC's rules, athletes testing positive at the Olympics are considered guilty if a banned substance is found in their systems, regardless of the circumstances.

"I don't know whether their defence is credible or not, but it doesn't matter," Pound said. "It's the stuff in your system that counts. That's all that matters as far as the Olympic result is concerned."

The IOC has conducted 380 tests since the athletes' village opened Jan. 31; Pyleva is the first to be caught by the IOC's most rigorous doping control program ever at a Winter Olympics. A total of 1,200 samples are being tested, a 72 per cent increase over the number in Salt Lake City, where there were seven doping cases total.

A Brazilian bobsledder who tested positive for steroids in a pre-Olympic drug test was the first athlete sent home from the Turin Games for doping. Armando dos Santos, a former hammer thrower, failed the test in early January when a sample showed evidence of the steroid nandrolone.

A dozen cross-country skiers, including Sean Crooks of Thunder Bay, Ont., were suspended five days for elevated hemoglobin, considered health checks - though they can also indicate possible blood doping. Seven of those have since been retested and cleared to compete; one failed a retest, and the other four had not yet been cleared.

Pound questioned the health checks, saying WADA would convene a meeting of experts after the games to examine the whole system.

"It's too coincidental," he said. "What are the odds of 12 healthy people, two days before the Olympic Games, having these levels naturally? You've got to say, 'Hey, wait a minute, what's wrong with this picture?'"