Yesterday, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) announced they had given para-athletics competitor Earle Connor a four year ban for doping violations related to out of competition positive urine tests for nandrolone that occurred on April 15 and May 28 of last year. The ban is scheduled to end on July 29, 2019.
The second out of competition test occurred after the first ones picked up an anomaly related to the presence of testosterone and 19-NA (19-norandrosterone) that, according to the CCES, “cannot rule out that it could come from the demethylation of synthetic testosterone and/or its metabolites.” Connor had a Therapeutic Use Exemption for testosterone at the time, but this exemption did not allow for the presence of 19-NA. A third test then took place on July 3 as part of in competition testing, which suggested that 19-NA was still present with an exogenous origin.
Connor was then offered a chance to have his B samples tested, which he took, and to explain the positive results. He then filed an appeal to have his provisional suspension lifted so he could compete at the 2015 Parapan American Games. After being offered a date to file his appeal, Connor then announced he would not pursue it. The Tribunal then set a timetable on August 18 to begin the process of reviewing his case. Connor was required by this timetable to a provide a list of witnesses and explain the evidence they would provide to support his case by August 24, with a hearing date set for September 28. Connor failed to respond to this, and, when the Tribunal contacted his legal representation, they said they no longer represented him. On August 26, Connor was then sent a notification that failure to comply was considered to be a waiving of his right to a hearing, and that he would then have to accept whatever consequences proposed by the CCES. Connor failed to respond, so the Tribunal contacted him again about what he wanted to do. On September 3, Connor finally responded to say he “would like to go forward with my hearing” and time to seek new counsel. He also told the Tribunal that he did not plan to fight directly the positive test results, with further explanation when he got new counsel.
The Tribunal gave Connor time to arrange this. Connor claimed he had new counsel but they would not be available until October 12. The Tribunal then gave Connor a new deadline of hearing back from his counsel by October 12. That date passed without any contact. Connor and the Tribunal then had more deadlines come and go as the Tribunal tried to determine if Connor had at any time in this process waived his right to appeal by rule. During this time, Connor was frequently unresponsive to Tribunal requests. At the eleventh hour on November 6 before a meeting to decide that and after earlier deadlines had passed, Connor contacted the Tribunal to say he had not been contacted despite certified mail signature by a courier saying he had signed for a letter from them.
More deadlines came and went as the two sides tried to figure out how to go forward and if Connor would assist in the investigation into his positive results. A meeting was scheduled on November 25 for January 28 to determine if Connor was going to provide such assistance. During that period, Connor then again fell out of contact with the Tribunal. A new set of meetings was finally scheduled with March 1 set for a meeting to finally resolve the merits of case. Connor was then in and out of contact with the Tribunal, blaming them for not contacting him and saying he was unable to access the Internet and was not at home for, among other reasons, having been hospitalized. The Tribunal noted that despite Connor’s claims, he was regularly updating his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
According to the CCES, Connor was given every opportunity to participate in the March 1 meeting, He failed to show, to respond or to have legal counsel attend the tribunal. Following the meeting on March 1, the Tribunal determined the drug tests were valid and no evidence was provided to suggest accidental consumption of them. By rule, this called for a mandatory suspension, which the committee then handed out.
19-NA is byproduct of metabolizing Nandrolone, a potent anabolic steroid. In a medical context, Nandrolone is used by people who have muscle wasting problems as a result of illnesses and HIV. 19-NA can be naturally synthesized in the body, including in pregnant women during the 6th to 14th weeks and in ovarian follicular fluid. Nandrolone use has been banned in competitive sports for over 40 years.