Is Moderation Best for Pot Positives?
The revelation this week of the two month suspension levied against John Bogart by the USAPL for testing positive for marijuana stands in stark contrast to the penalty that was slapped on CPU member Willie Albert for the same violation.
Albert's initial suspension was for one year and was set to expire on April 11, 2009. However, Albert competed in another federation's meet before that date and had his suspension extended by another year, for a total of two years.
Which federation took the more appropriate action? Should suspensions have been handed down at all?
The IPF Anti-Doping Rules (pdf) allow for a certain amount of leeway when handing out penalties for doping violations. In fact, the code allows for standard penalties to be reduced to a mere reprimand. The test that the IPF uses in making that determination is whether the lifter intended to enhance his performance by taking the drug. Given the drug involved in the two cases above, can it reasonably be assumed that the lifters were using marijuana to enhance their performance? In powerlifting, does a reprimand seem like the appropriate response to a first positive test for marijuana?
At the USAPL forum, Rich Edinger comments: "Anybody who has read my posts over the last several years knows that I am adversely against using PED while competing in the USAPL. I am still against the use of steroids, HGH, and stimulants to enhance one's performance. (I guess reading 1000s of police reports in my job has convinced me that alcohol is much more harmful and damaging to society than marijuana. Never read one police report in which a man beat up his girlfriend while smoking marijuana). ) I just believe that the USAPL and IPF should reconsider blindly following the WADA in all situations: to wit: marijuana."
Andy Furnas' perspective: "While I agree that pot certainly would not be a performance enhancing substance, it would not be practical, from a mission perspective, for the IPF/USAPL to make exceptions regarding WADA's banned substances list.
If the USOC wanted to petition the IOC to pressure WADA to remove these types of "non-performance-enhancing" substances (or whatever the proper process would be), that would be reasonable. But we (IPF/USAPL) hang our hats on following WADA."
From the IPF Anti-Doping Rules:
10.4 Elimination or Reduction of the Period of Ineligibility for Specified Substances under Specific Circumstances
Where an Athlete or other Person can establish how a Specified Substance entered his or her body or came into his or her possession and that such Specified Substance was not intended to enhance the Athlete’s sport performance or mask the use of a performance-enhancing substance, the period of Ineligibility found in Article 10.2 shall be replaced with the following:
First violation: At a minimum, a reprimand an no period of Ineligibility from future Events, and at a maximum, two (2) years of Ineligibility.
To justify any elimination or reduction, the Athlete or other Person must produce corroborating evidence in addition to his or her word which establishes to the comfortable satisfaction of the hearing panel the absence of an intent to enhance sport performance or mask the use of a performance enhancing substance. The Athlete or other Person’s degree of fault shall be the criterion considered in assessing any reduction of the period of Ineligibility.
This Article applies only in those cases where the hearing panel is comfortably satisfied by the objective circumstances of the case that the Athlete in taking a Prohibited Substance did not intend to enhance his or her sport performance. Examples of the type of objective circumstances which in combination might lead a hearing panel to be comfortably satisfied of no performance-enhancing intent would include: the fact that the nature of the Specified Substance or the timing of its ingestion would not have been beneficial to the Athlete; the Athlete’s open Use or disclosure of his or her Use of the Specified Substance; and a contemporaneous medical records file substantiating the non-sport-related prescription for the Specified Substance. Generally, the greater the potential performance-enhancing benefit, the higher the burden on the Athlete to prove lack of an intent to enhance sport performance.
While the absence of intent to enhance sport performance must be established to the comfortable satisfaction of the hearing panel, the Athlete may establish how the Specified Substance entered the body by a balance of probability.