March 8, 2004
Bookmark and Share

WADA statement regarding recent rowing case

WADA has now received a response from the International Rowing Federation (FISA) regarding the case of three Austrian rowers who received six-month suspensions after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone last year. The president of FISA has declared, publicly and to WADA that “this offense took place in 2003 and these rowers are subject to rules in place at the time of the offense, which were FISA’s rules, not WADA’s.”

However, notwithstanding this statement, the FISA decision in these cases clearly states that the sanctions applied were those specified under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC). The decision states that “the sanction to be applied is therefore the one in article 10.5.2 of the WADC, which allows for the reduction of the ineligibility period by up to half of the period otherwise applicable.”

There is obviously a contradiction between what is written in FISA’s decision and the subsequent explanation. Given the above, WADA believes that FISA should either have based the decision fully on FISA’s previous rules without referring to the Code, or if basing sanctions on the Code, should have applied them in accordance with the rules contained in the Code. Clearly, a six-month sanction, even if no significant fault or negligence is found on the part of the athlete, is not permissible in any circumstances under the Code. The minimum sanction that should have been applied under the Code is one year.

FISA has stated that WADA has no right of appeal in relation to this decision, since it was decided under the FISA rules applicable at the time of the infractions. However, had such a decision been taken under the Code, WADA would not hesitate to appeal the case.