Veronica Campbell-Brown

Veronica Campbell-Brown receives warning, no suspension from Jamaican track and field panel

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Jamaica’s most decorated Olympic champion is set to be cleared to compete, five months after failing a drug test.

A Jamaican track and field disciplinary panel issued a warning and no suspension to Veronica Campbell-Brown, 31 and a seven-time Olympic medalist, Wednesday night.

“The disciplinary committee has issued a ruling that Veronica Campbell-Brown has committed an anti-doping violation, contrary to IAAF Rule 32.2a,” the Jamaican Athletics Administrative Association said in a statement. “They have recommended that a reprimand without any period of ineligibility would be appropriate.”

The IAAF has to ratify the recommendation, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. The newspaper reported on Thursday that the ruling was unlikely to be upheld by the IAAF, citing at least two unnamed officials.

IAAF Rule 32.2a outlines what constitutes an anti-doping rule violation. It is 243 words long and can be found in the IAAF rule book here. The Jamaican panel ruled Campbell-Brown did not use the banned substance to enhance her performance.

Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic on May 4. The positive test was first reported June 14. The drug was reportedly either Lasix (Furosemide) or Hydrochlorothiazide, similar substances that can be used as masking agents for performance-enhancing drugs.

The banned drug came from a cream that Campbell-Brown was using to treat a leg injury and which she had declared on her doping control form, according to Reuters, citing unnamed sources close to Jamaican track and field.

Campbell-Brown was provisionally suspended and has not competed since June. Another Jamaican sprinter, Steve Mullings, tested positive for Furosemide in 2011 and was banned for life. Mullings had tested positive before. This was Campbell-Brown’s first failed test.

Campbell-Brown has not made any public comments since the test came to light and missed the Jamaican National Championships and the World Championships. She was considered a medal contender in the 100 meters, 200 and 4×100 relay.

In June, an IAAF spokesman said Campbell-Brown’s case appeared to be a “lesser” offense of unintentional use. In July, the Times of London reported Campbell-Brown was expected to receive a six-month ban.

The standard ban for positive drug tests is two years, but under a “lesser” offense, just a warning is an option if the athlete can prove he or she ingested the substance without intent to enhance performance.

“Veronica is not a cheat,” read part of a statement sent to media by Campbell-Brown’s agent in June.

She effectively did serve a six-month ban given she sat out all summer competitions, and the next track and field season doesn’t pick up again until 2014.

Campbell-Brown was the first in a series of positive drug tests for sprinters this season that included American record holder Tyson Gay, former world record holder Asafa Powell and 2008 Olympic 100-meter silver medalist Sherone Simpson.

Gay, Powell and Simpson have not received their official suspensions yet but haven’t competed since their positive tests were first reported.

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Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 06:  Yuliya Stepanova looks on after finishing last in the Womens 800m heats during day one of the 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 6, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for European Athletics )
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Whistleblower Yulia Stepanova‘s hopes of competing in the Summer Olympics are all but over. Her fight to expose doping and corruption is not.

“It’s OK to lose a good fight,” Stepanova’s husband, Vitaly Stepanov, told The Associated Press on Monday.

They have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision, handed down Sunday, that denies Stepanova a chance at competing in the Rio Games, which begin Aug. 5. The decision, the Stepanovs claim, is based on incorrect information, including the IOC’s framing of Stepanova’s decision to become a whistleblower as a too-little-too-late desperation play made after the Russian team had cast her aside.

It’s a conclusion that both the World Anti-Doping Agency and track’s governing body, the IAAF, disagree with; both recommended Stepanova be allowed to compete in Rio.

But Stepanov said he received several signals that the IOC would not go along, beginning with a general lack of interest from the key decision makers. He said that during the push for Olympic eligibility, he spoke with two separate IOC officials for a total of 90 minutes.

“I think what the IOC didn’t do is spend enough time to understand how big the problem is in Russia and how much covering up is happening in Russian sports,” he said.

Stepanova was the 800-meter runner who was entrenched in the Russian doping system but later came forward with details about the cheating. That triggered investigations that led to the banning of the Russian track team from the Olympics. After receiving more information about Russian sports as a whole, the IOC opted against a ban of the entire Russian team.

Part of that decision included a ruling that any Russian with a previous doping ban would not be allowed in Rio. That includes Stepanova, though the legality of that ruling is in question: In 2011, the Court of Arbitration for Sport invalidated the IOC’s Rule 45, which called for Olympic bans for any athlete who’d served more than a six-month doping penalty. CAS said it amounted to double jeopardy.

It was one of several facets from the decision handed down Sunday that indicated the difficulty the IOC had in finding the right balance between, as president Thomas Bach called it, “individual justice and collective responsibility.” There also were political concerns; a Russian official addressed the IOC executive board and told members not to cave into geopolitical pressure.

While Russia largely welcomed the decision, it was roundly criticized by those in the anti-doping world. The move to ban Stepanova was widely viewed as the worst part of the judgment.

“The decision to refuse her entry in to the Games is incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Stepanov said his wife got a bout of the stomach flu on Sunday – making a bad day that much worse.

She was training for the Olympics, knowing that if she made it, she would not compete for a medal, the way she had in the past.

“Her goal is to participate,” Stepanov said. “In my view, she deserved to be an Olympian a lot more than when she was a doped athlete.”

But the odds are against her.

Stepanov said there is no money to fund an appeal to CAS, which would have the last say on her possible ban.

“Sunday was a day to cry a little, to get disappointed,” Stepanov said. “But today’s Monday. We feel we’re trying to fight for the right thing, so we wake up and start fighting again.”

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Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

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