Napoleon Lands 3-Month Ban After Mistake
Aug 26, 2010 - Craig Lord
Ryan Napoleon (AUS) has been suspended for three months after making a mistake. Interesting that FINA's doping panel should accept that the swimmer made a genuine mistake but still see fit to serve a penalty. How now to explain that Spanish 'fly ace Rafael Munoz also had an excuse but was excused, the WADA code overlooked in his case?
Case 1: Doctor turns up and says: there was a genuine medical reason for my client having erred. Verdict: doctor's explanation accepted; code broken; swimmer let off
Case 2: Doctor turns up and says: there was a genuine medical reason for my client having erred. Verdict: doctor's explanation accepted; code broken; swimmer suspended
Spot the difference.
Spot the difference too in approach of federation (below) and swimmer, Napoleon accepting his responsibility and earning the respect of all for having done so:
“It’s devastating,” said Napoleon. “It’s extremely disappointing and something that I have been dealing with since April this year when I was first notified that there was an issue. A mistake was made, and the FINA panel accepted that a mistake was made in the hearing, but as an athlete I still understand that I have a responsibility to check all my medication thoroughly.
"It may not feel like it now, but I know that I will get through this and become a stronger person and athlete because of it."
The inconsistency of treatment for different swimmers screams out in the case of Napoleon. The three-month ban is a red herring: FINA has annulled his results from November 16, 2009 to April 6, 2010, taking in Aussie 2010 trials, an effective ban from November to April then; and now he is banned again from August to November 2010. That is befuddling. It could even be interpreted as vindictive since it catches a swimmer deemed officially to have made a mistake and not been engaged in a deliberate doping offense not just once but twice in a one-year period, forcing him to miss his main event of the year, the Commonwealth Games. Had the penalty been back-dated to the time of the offense, as has often been the norm, then Napoleon would now be free to race on.
The Doping Panel decision was taken and signed by F.D van Heijningen (NED), chairman, William Bock (USA) and Farid Ben Belkacem (ALG).
Napoleon's case was among several recently reported. Daynara de Paula (BRA) was banned for six months after testing positive twice for Furosemide, a diuretic. FINA stated: "The FINA Doping Panel is of the opinion that the athlete has established according to DC 10.4 how the specified substance entered the body (after taking legally allowed supplement which apparently had been contaminated in the production process), without the intent of enhancing sport performance." So, suspended regardless of intent, like Napoleon, but not like Munoz.
Sergio Garcia Ortiz (ESP) has been suspended for a year for failing to be available for three anti-doping tests in an 18-month period. The penalty started on August 20, the same day that Napoleon's second penalty began. Ortiz had no doctor to offer an excuse and as such was served a suspension.
FINA Doping Panel Decision - Ryan Napoleon (AUS)
The Australian swimmer Ryan Napoleon was tested positive to the substance Formoterol (Class S.3 Beta-2 Agonists) on 16 November 2009.
According to DC 10.4, during the hearing of the Doping Panel it has been sufficiently established how the substance Formoterol entered the body of the athlete due to the use of an inhaler wrongly labelled by a pharmacist.
It is clear that the swimmer had no intention of enhancing his sports performances.
The Doping Panel underlines the responsibility of the athlete to check his medicine (in this case for asthma).
The Doping Panel took into consideration the degree of negligence and decided to apply a 3 months period of ineligibility starting from 20 august 2010.
All costs of this case shall be borne by Swimming Australia in accordance with DC 12.2.
The statement from Swimming Australia Ltd
Swimming Australia has been informed by FINA’s anti-doping agency that Queenslander Ryan Napoleon has been suspended from swimming for three months.
An asthmatic for 20 years, Napoleon took medication from an asthma inhaler which was incorrectly labelled and subsequently tested positive to Formoterol, a common asthma medication, which is also a banned substance on the WADA list.
Napoleon has taken the asthma medication Pulmicort for the majority of his life, however on this occasion a Pulmicort inhaler was incorrectly labelled, and was actually Symbicort - which consists of the banned substance Formoterol.
In the FINA hearing which was held via teleconference last Wednesday, the panel accepted that Napoleon was not at fault due to the mistake of the pharmacist incorrectly labelling the medication, and that there was no intent to use the banned substance, which he could have applied for a TUE for, if he knew he was actually taking it.
FINA did however find that as an elite athlete Napoleon had a ‘reduced responsibility’ in this matter, and should have been fully aware of the medication he was taking, and subsequently applied the three month suspension.
The decision means that Napoleon will not be able to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi where he had qualified for the 400m and 1500m freestyle.
“It’s devastating,” said Napoleon.
“It’s extremely disappointing and something that I have been dealing with since April this year when I was first notified that there was an issue,” said Napoleon.
“A mistake was made, and the FINA panel accepted that a mistake was made in the hearing, but as an athlete I still understand that I have a responsibility to check all my medication thoroughly.”
“It may not feel like it now, but I know that I will get through this and become a stronger person and athlete because of it.”
Swimming Australia Head Coach Leigh Nugent said the circumstances surrounding this mistake and suspension are disappointing for Ryan and the team.
“Unfortunately a mistake has been made and Ryan is the one that will suffer from that mistake,” said Nugent.
“We provided all the evidence, including a statutory declaration from the Pharmacist to the FINA commission, and we believe Ryan was given a fair and just hearing.”
“It’s a difficult situation for him to deal with, but he is a person of strong character and substance and will get over this disappointment.”
The suspension has been back dated to Friday 20 August 2010.