Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Eric Molina Suspended for Two Years by UKAD

The UK National Anti-Doping Panel ("NADP") upheld the two-year suspension levied by UK Anti-Doping ("UKAD") on two-time heavyweight world title challenger Eric Molina, who tested positive for the banned substance Dexamethasone ("Dex") after his December 10, 2016 title challenge against Anthony Joshua.  Molina had appealed the provisional suspension that UKAD handed down on October 28, 2017.

Molina was cooperative with UKAD in that he did not request his B sample to be tested and admitted to using a supplement that contained Dex.  Molina stated in an interview with UKAD in September 2017, that he had a member of his team inject him in his "rear" with a product called Tribedoce DX.  Molina further stated that his brother purchased the supplement in Mexico and he thought it was just an ordinary shot of B12 vitamin.  Dex was clearly listed on the label as one of the ingredients. 

Dex is an anti-inflammatory that comes under the category of Glucocortoids and is on WADA's banned substance list when used in-competition only.  It is generally used for treatment of allergic disorders, skin conditions and breathing disorders, so out of competition use would not be considered a violation.  However, studies have shown that it can have performance enhancing effects in regards to stamina, among other benefits.

Due to Molina's cooperation, UKAD did not assert that his actions were intentional or that he was looking to cheat.  Due to the lack of intent, the starting point for a suspension would be two years under the WADA Code.  The case hinged on whether Molina's actions could reduce that penalty by falling under ADR article 10.4 where there is No Fault or Negligence or 10.5 where is No Significant Fault or Negligence.

The NADP determined that 10.4 was not applicable as, under the commentary to the WADA Code, this section is only applicable where there has been "some type of spiking or sabotage."  Molina did not claim any spiking or sabotage.

The NADP also held that 10.5 did not apply.  The UKAD actually helped the NADP out by pointing them to a CAS case between tennis player Marin Cilic and the International Tennis Federation where the range of sanctions a panel may consider for a No Significant Fault or Negligence reduction is laid out. 

Because the NADP determined that Molina "simply ignored all risks, failed to act with the utmost caution and shows 'a significant degree of or considerable fault'" - this put him in the 16 to 24 month bracket.  The "standard" sanction, according to the Cilic case, was 20 months.  But the NADP did not believe this case was "standard".  Instead, because Molina used a new source in Mexico and made "absolutely no checks whatsoever as to what was in that supplement" and Molina chose not to actively participate in the appeal - the NADP determined that it had no material evidence to consider dropping him below the standard suspension of two years.  Thus, the NADP upheld UKAD's two-year suspension of Molina.

The suspension was backdated to when the provisional suspension was enacted, October 28, 2017, so Molina will only have to sit out until after October 27, 2019.

  • This is a classic case of a boxer using a supplement without any regard for the WADA code.  Molina had been drug tested before and knew the procedure but still used a product that listed a banned substance on its label.  Boxers should not use supplements unless they have someone on their team who is very familiar with WADA protocol.  Alternatively, they can reach out to VADA or an affiliated organization who can answer any questions about the supplement.  Things like Vitamin B12 shots are very common in the sport but unless you are dealing with a medical professional who is well-versed in the WADA code, it's not something you should do on your own.
  • It obviously hurt Molina quite a bit that he had no legal representation and presented no evidence.  Even though he had some very bad facts against him, a competent doping lawyer probably could have gotten the suspension reduced down to 20 months or lower. 
  • Adjudication of this case was ridiculously slow by UKAD.  The decision does not go into the specifics of when Molina was notified of his positive test but he gave the sample in the early morning of December 11, 2016.  They apparently interviewed him in September 2017 and then provisionally suspended him in late October 2017.  His appeal was not adjudicated until late May 2018.  That's nearly 18 months after he gave his sample.  That's way too much time.  Contrast that with how quickly Canelo's case was resolved (sample given in February, settled in April).  There were folks who complained that Canelo's case dragged on too long - no comparison to Molina's.
See NAPD opinion below:

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