A 55-year-old amateur cyclist from Burnley has been banned from all sport for two years after testing positive for banned substances that he said were contained in medication given to him by a friend before a race to treat his mouth ulcers.
Michael Ellerton, from Burnley, tested positive for the glucocorticoids prednisone and prednisolone following an in-competition test at the Port Talbot Wheelers Cycling Club’s 25 Mile Time Trial on 11 September 2016, organised under Cycling Time Trials (CTT) rules.
UK Anti-doping (UKAD) says that “Glucocorticoids are currently prohibited in-competition, when administered by a systemic route of administration (orally, rectally, intravenously or intramuscularly),” but “are permitted out-of-competition regardless of the route of administration.”
Ellerton, who was a member of the North Yorkshire-based Team Swift Cycling, said a friend had given him a packet of ten 5mg Prednisolone Tablets to treat his mouth ulcers and that he took two a day for five days in the lead-up to the event.
As a national- rather than international-level athlete, UKAD invited him to apply for a retrospective Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) but when he did so, its TUE Committee held that he did not meet the conditions for one to be issued.
In its decision, the TUE Committee said:
(a) The TUE Committee are unable to approve TUEs for Athletes who have self-medicated using
another person’s prescription medication,
(b) the Athlete did not seek medical advice prior to using the drugs.
(c) There is no evidence to show that the athlete would experience a significant impairment to
health if the Prohibited Substance been withheld.
(d) There are permitted therapeutic alternatives
(e) Glucocorticoids have the potential to performance enhance.
UKAD accepted that his committing an anti-doping rule violation was not intentional and was out-of-competition which, together with his prompt admission, led to him being banned him for two years, instead of the maximum four that would otherwise have applied.
It noted however that he had “used the medication without undertaking any research into its ingredients or any further checks,” including that he “failed to conduct any rudimentary internet research into the medication.”
The ban was backdated to 11 September 2016, the date of the positive test, and will expire at midnight on 10 September 2018.
UKAD Director of Operations, Pat Myhill said: “The World Anti-Doping Code is based on the principle of strict liability – every athlete, no matter what level, is solely responsible for any prohibited substance which is found in their system, regardless of how it got there or whether there was an intention to cheat or not.
“Athletes can easily check the prohibited status of medications before use by visiting Global DRO,” he added.
While Ellerton’s anti-doping rule violation was held to have been unintentional, UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead has expressed in recent days her concerns over doping among amateur athletes.
Responding the findings of a BBC Sport survey of amateur sportsmen and women, she said that doping in amateur sport as a whole is “becoming a crisis.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.