New focus of anti-doping

Published 13 October 2009

By Gary Rice, Beauchamps Solicitors

In Canada, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (“CCES”) has announced (on April Fools’ Day no less) that Genevieve Jeanson, a now retired cyclist, has been found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation by repeatedly using Erythropoietin (“EPO”) throughout her cycling career.

 

A 12-month investigation was conducted by the CCES into allegations she made during a radio interview in 2007. A cyclist using EPO, what’s newsworthy about that we hear you say? The case has a number of aspects which demonstrate the revised focus of the anti-doping drive under the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code (“Code”). Both Ms. Jeanson’s coach and her doctor were given lifetime bans, while she herself received a 10-year ban, along with permanent ineligibility for federal funding. 

Ms. Jeanson is 27 years old and has retired from cycling. The reduction of her ban from a lifetime ban to a 10 year period of ineligibility is indicative of the leniency offered under the new Code where an athlete assists the anti-doping organisation in an investigation into doping. Ms. Jeanson began taking EPO when she was 16 years old and the lifetime bans imposed on both her coach and her doctor demonstrate the increased sanctions which can be imposed on athlete support personnel who are involved in the administration of a prohibited substance or who assist in it in some other way, particularly in the case of minors. Another trend that this case evidences is the new focus on investigations and other non-analytical methods of stamping out doping. 

However, the case also highlights one of the key difficulties for governing bodies and doping authorities. Although the doctor and coach have been banned from cycling for life, what does that really mean and how can it be enforced? In the case of athletes who are found to have committed a violation, the governing body can ensure that the athlete does not take part in events sanctioned by it during his or her period of ineligibility. In the case of athlete support personnel such as doctors or coaches, it is not so simple. While such doctors and coaches can be banned from the stadia at which sporting events take place, how do you stop or police the private relationship between an athlete and a doctor or the athlete and his or her coach? In another Canadian case, swimming coach Cecil Russell received a life ban (incidentally, he also confessed to helping a steroid peddling colleague burn a murder victim’s body in a silo beside his home) for being involved in a major drugs ring. Despite the ban, Russell has been coaching his son Colin Russell who appeared at last year’s Canadian Olympic swimming trials. The coach’s lawyer has claimed that he still has the right to work with his local swimming clubs as a ‘consultant’. Commentators have agreed that a potential way to tackle this difficulty is to sanction clubs, teams or athletes who engage with banned doctors or coaches. 

Article obtained from www.beauchamps.ie, the website of Beauchamps Solicitors. Article reproduced with their kind permission.

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