Yoshimura Suzuki has announced that James Stewart’s appeal of his 16-month ban from professional motocross was denied by the Court of Arbitration for Sport board. After finishing second at the Seattle Supercross on April 12, 2014, James Stewart was required to report to the WADA facility at Century Link Field (along with winner Ryan Villopoto and third place rider Ryan Dungey). The urine sample obtained from James at that test revealed the presence of amphetamines. On June 17, 2014, the FIM provisionally suspended James Stewart until the final decision on his case could be reached. James had a hearing on October 23, 2014, in Chavannes-de-Bogis, Switzerland, to state his case. In short, Stewart’s defense was that the amphetamines came from Adderall, a drug he said he was taking for an Attention Deficit Disorder condition (and that he had a prescription for it). However, James had never told any race officials that he was taking Adderall and had failed to file the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) that the FIM/AMA and MX Sports require before an athlete can take any drug on the banned list.
After that hearing, the Director of the International Commission of Judges, Anand Sashidharan, weighed James’ defense and came to the conclusion that James Stewart would be banned from racing for a period of 16 months. The ban would be backdated to the date of the violation, which meant that Stewart’s actual ban would only be 8 months. The Director of the Commission found that it was “indisputable that Mr. Stewart had committed an anti-doping rule violation‚ in particular that it is each rider’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his or her body.”
Although the WADA discovered the drug violation, it was the FIM that handed down the penalty (because Supercross is sanctioned by both the AMA and FIM). It should be noted that James Stewart’s appeal was not adjudicated by either WADA or the FIM, but instead by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is an independent body headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland.
James can appeal the case again, but this time in a court of law. However, CAS findings are rarely overturned by courts. Plus, James isn’t appealing the guilty findings, since he definitely had not filed a TUE and did have amphetamines in his system — he is only appealing the length of his suspension. However, James 8-month ban was in sync with the suspensions of athletes from other sports who have committed the same offense.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The original FIM suspension will remain in effect until August 11, 2015. Stewart cannot race the AMA 450 Nationals until after August 11. That means that Stewart could return for Miller Motorsports Park in Utah on August 15, 2015 and Crawfordsville, Indiana, on August 22. The fact that the AMA Nationals are not affiliated with the FIM has no bearing because the AMA 250/450 Nationals, run by MX Sports, have signed on to have its drug testing done by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). USADA handles all international and Olympic competition in the Unites States and is a signatory to the WADA Code. Thus, if an athlete is banned by WADA he is banned by USADA.
James Stewart said, “It’s extremely disappointing that my appeal was denied, but I’m glad this is over and now I can turn my full attention back to preparing for the few events I’ll be competition in this year and coming back strong for 2016.” Stewart plans to race the final two Nationals, Monster Cup, Lille (Paris) Supercross, Red Bull Straight Rhythm and a round of the Australian Supercross series after the August 11 date.