Alberto Salazar can’t be banned by WADA for giving Kara Goucher a prescription drug she didn’t have a prescription for; he could be potentially banned for “a minimum of two years” and “up to four years” for coaching Galen Rupp on how to get an IV drip; and he would get off scot-free if he doped Rupp with testosterone in high school due to WADA’s 10-year statute of limitations
June 10, 2015
Editor’s Update on 6/11/2015: This article was initially published stating that Salazar could be facing a lifetime ban from the sport if he was found to have administered testosterone to Galen Rupp in HS. That appears to be incorrect as WADA has a 10-year statute of limitations. The initial version of this article also didn’t have point #4.
Given the recent David Epstein/ProPublica/Mark Daly/BBC report on Alberto Salazar, we decided to reach out to the World Anti Doping Agency to see what type of sanctions Mr. Salazar could be facing if allegations in the report are found to be credible by the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA).
We learned a few interesting facts.
1) Salazar can’t be banned by WADA for allegedly giving Kara Goucher Cytomel. While a violation of US law, giving a prescription drug that isn’t banned by WADA to someone who doesn’t have a prescription for it isn’t a violation of the WADA code.
One of the two specific allegations that Kara Goucher made against coach Salazar is that he gave her and told her to take Cytomel — a prescription drug that she didn’t have a prescription for. Since Cytomel isn’t a prohibited substance by WADA, this wouldn’t result in Salazar being banned by WADA. Ben Nichols, the Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications for WADA, wrote the following about this type of action in general (he can’t comment about specific cases):
– Using or distributing a non-prohibited substance is not related to doping.
– It is our understanding that there are some laws against using or sharing prescription drugs, but as with any law it depends on who has jurisdiction and their own rules.
– If a doctor, for example, were to give out a prescription drug that is not prohibited (and does it only for performance enhancement reasons), this might be considered professional misconduct and they might be at risk of being sanctioned by their licensing body (including a suspension of their license to practice medicine).
Salazar’s actions could result in US criminal charges as giving out prescription drugs without a prescription is against the law in the United States. We don’t believe Cytomel is a Schedule I, II or III drug so it looks like this would be a misdemeanor in Oregon (if there are any medical experts that know how Cytomel is classified by the DEA, please email us).
2) Salazar could potentially face a sanction for a “minimum of two years” and “up to four years” for abusing the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process in coaching Galen Rupp on how to get an IV drip.
Goucher also alleged that coach Salazar coached Galen Rupp on how to act so he’d got an IV drip of saline before the 2007 and 2011 World Championships. As Epstein wrote, “At the world championships in 2007 and 2011, Kara Goucher says that Salazar coached Rupp on how to make sure he got an IV drip of saline before his races.”
This is potentially a violation of WADA rule 2.9. Ben Nichols of WADA wrote the following about a generic TUE coaching action like this, not Salazar specifically, as he can’t comment on individual cases:
– The TUE process was created to ensure that athletes with legitimate medical conditions may compete in sport, but it should not offer an (performance enhancing) advantage to an athlete
– TUEs should only be given when the absence of such treatment would cause a significant impairment to the athlete’s health (and when there is no suitable alternative)
– We at WADA are alert to the possible abuse of TUEs; and remain vigilant to the actions of a few unscrupulous doctors who may look for ways to get around TUE rules
– If, for example, an athlete was encouraged or assisted in obtaining a TUE under fraudulent circumstances, it could be considered to be an anti-doping rule violation under Code Article 2.9 on Complicity.
WADA rule 2.9 defines a Complicity violation as follows:
Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation, Attempted anti-doping rule violation or violation of Article 10.12.1 by another Person.
The punishment for violating Rule 2.9 is explained by 10.3.4 as follows:
For violations of Article 2.9, the period of Ineligibility imposed shall be a minimum of two years, up to four years, depending on the seriousness of the violation.
3) If Salazar is found to have given Galen Rupp testosterone in high school, he will be banned from the sport for life.
3) Perhaps the most grave allegation in the report was that Galen Rupp was on testosterone in HS. While giving drugs to a minor is an offense that normally would result in a lifetime ban from the sport, WADA has a 10-year statute of limitations so we don’t believe Salazar can be sanctioned by WADA for this offense.
The WADA code views the doping of a minor to be especially egregious:
“An Article 2.7 or Article 2.8 violation involving a Minor shall be considered a particularly serious violation and, if committed by Athlete Support Personnel for violations other than for Specified Substances, shall result in lifetime Ineligibility for Athlete Support Personnel.”
(Editor’s note: Article 2.8 refers to administration or attempted administration of any prohibited substance in or out of competition)
Thus we initially thought Salazar could be facing a lifetime ban if Rupp was found to be on testosterone in high school. However, an astute LetsRun.com visitor wrote in late last night, telling us that WADA has a 10-year state of limitations so it doesn’t seem as Salazar or Rupp could be sanctioned for something that allegedly happened in 2002.
ARTICLE 17 STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
No anti-doping rule violation proceeding may be commenced against an Athlete or other Person unless he or she has been notified of the anti-doping rule violation as provided in Article 7, or notification has been reasonably attempted, within ten years from the date the violation is asserted to have occurred.
Now, many messageboard posters are claiming that there are ways WADA can get around the 10 year statue of limitations so it’s not totally settled as explained here: MB: Update:WADA has 10 yr. statue of limitations so Rupp and Salazar will get off scot-free if it’s proven Rupp doped in HS.
If Rupp didn’t have a prescription for the testosterone and got it from Salazar, then Salazar would have committed a felony under Oregon law as testosterone is a Schedule III drug and the “unlawful delivery of Schedule III substances is a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and $125,000 in fines.”
However, the statue of limitations for a drug felony in Oregon appears to be just three years so once again Salazar would be off the hook.
4) If Salazar was found to have administered testosterone to his son, Alex, or to Galen Rupp, that would be a felony under Oregon law but Salazar likely would not be facing any charges as the statute of limitations for drug offenses is only three years in Oregon. We are unsure if the allegation that Salazar administered testosterone to his son would be a doping offense.
If Galen Rupp or Alex Salazar didn’t have a prescription for their testosterone and got it from Salazar, then Salazar would have committed a felony under Oregon law as testosterone is a Schedule III drug and the “unlawful delivery of Schedule III substances is a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and $125,000 in fines.”
However, the statute of limitations for a drug felony in Oregon appears to be just three years so once again Salazar could be off the hook due to the statute of limitations (it’s not clear in the ProPublica article when the Alex Salazar testing of testosterone occurred). We’re not sure if there could be some sort of charge for practicing medicine without a license.
Salazar’s son, Alex, isn’t an athlete so we’re not sure how WADA would view his abuse of testosterone. We’ve reached out to WADA for clarification on this point as well as the 10-year statute of limitations and will let you know if we hear back.
More: 2015 WADA Code (Pdf)