PUTTING STEWART’S FAILED DRUG TEST INTO SHARPER FOCUS

June 19, 2014
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Press release: “Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s James Stewart has reported that he received notification from the FIM on June 17th, 2014, that a WADA test administered to him on April 12th, 2014, after the Seattle AMA/FIM Supercross, showed a positive result for a substance on the WADA 2014 Prohibited List. The medication in question is and has been prescribed to Stewart by his physician to treat a long-term condition.

“Stewart, with the full support of Yoshimura Suzuki Racing, is willingly communicating with WADA and taking all appropriate steps to resolve this matter and plans to be at the starting gate at the Tennessee National in Blountville, Tennessee, on June 28th, 2014.”

A word about WADA: Not in the Yoshimura press release is this fact: A positive drug test is a positive drug test to WADA. They expressly state that athletes using medications or prohibited substances for medical reasons are required to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) prior to use in sport. Many medications are, in fact, performance enhancing, but WADA has a system for allowing variances to riders who need drugs for legitimate medical reasons. WADA will permit a TUE under three conditions: (1) The athlete’s health will be significantly impaired if he does not take the substance. (2) The substance does not enhance the athlete’s performance beyond what brings him back to normal health. (3) There are no other alternative treatments available. Any athlete who may be subject to doping control must request a TUE 30 days before an event and bring the TUE with him to any subsequent drug test.

For those of you waiting for the official WADA press release, there will not be one…at least not one that lists the exact banned substance that was used by James Stewart. WADA leaves the press release business up to the sanctioning body, the rider or his team. James Stewart’s team has sent out a press release—and the FIM press releases are shown below (including an indeterminate suspension from FIM competition that could eliminate Stewart from the Motocross des Nations selection process). WADA, for their part,  is hired to do the testing and analysis only. This leaves considerable leeway for the sanctioning body, rider or team to spin the failed drug test in anyway they want—since WADA will not correct them if they are misleading.

And, even though WADA and the USADA have contracts to test in the Supercross and National series, they do not test at every event. They show up only at a few events in a year, thus a rider can only be caught when he meets the selection process of the event and when, and if, WADA is testing. It is possible to never get tested because of the structure of the system and thus be able to claim that you never failed a drug test before. WADA does retain the right to test “out of season” and at the rider’s homes. The USADA did not test at Glen Helen, but they did test at Thunder Valley. Which raises the question of whether Stewart’s test sample from Colorado will have the same result as in Seattle. The answer to that question will not come for a month or two (given that the Seattle Supercross test was taken on April 12th and not announced until June 19th).

WADA does not have a special banned list of substances for Supercross and Motocross specifically. They are the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and they police all sporting events from the Olympics to the Tour de France. Every athlete who competes in these events is advised on what is banned (and the sanctioning bodies have even held pre-race seminars to help clarify the issues).

WADA polices AMA Supercross (which is under the FIM umbrella), while the USADA (U. S. Anti-Doping Agency) handles the AMA Nationals. However, the USADA is a signatory to the WADA protocol and thus there is virtually no difference between the two agencies.

On the flip side, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) sanctions the Supercross series (along with the FIM), while AMA Pro Racing sanctions the National series. AMA Pro Racing is not an AMA affiliate, but instead they bought the rights to road racing and motocross from the AMA in 2008 … and for some incredibly stupid reason, the AMA sold them the rights to use the name “AMA.” AMA Pro Racing is owned by DMG (Daytona Motorsports Group) which is owned by NASCAR. This group then leased the AMA National Motocross Championships to MX Sports. Stewart’s failed test was with WADA and the AMA/FIM, but that does not necessarily means that he can’t be equally punished by USADA-related AMA Pro Racing and MX Sports. But, he most likely will not have any suspensions levied for the outdoor series since that is a hornet’s nest that MX Sports wouldn’t want to get involved in.

It is important to note that WADA does not prescribe the penalties. That is left up to the sanctioning body—in Stewart’s case that is the FIM and to a much lesser degree the AMA.

For Pro riders who are suddenly concerned, the USADA manages an athlete hotline which may be used to find answers to drug reference questions at (719) 785-2000, toll-free at (866) 601-2632, by email at athleteexpress@usada.org.

THE FIM ACTIONS AGAINST JAMES STEWART

Click on the FIM rulings to enlarge.

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