19 Dec 2003
CAS 2003/A/505 Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) v. Alicia Pitts, USA Cycling, Inc. & United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)
- Doping (methadone)
- CAS Jurisdiction
- Presence of a prohibited substance in the athlete’s body
- Duty of the athlete of have knowledge of the regulations
- Determination of the sanction in view of mitigating circumstances
1. Absent any adjudication procedure consistent with the international standards in anti-doping policy provided by the competent national federation’ rules, the basis for the CAS jurisdiction can be the information on the closing of a case made by a national anti-doping agency. This information can indeed be considered to be the final ruling made at the level of the national federation asked for by UCI Anti-doping Examination Regulations (AER). UCI is therefore entitled to appeal before the CAS against such ruling according to its rules and within the meaning of article R47 of the CAS Code.
2. The presence of a prohibited substance such as methadone in the body of a rider constitutes an offence of doping. It does not matter whether the substance of methadone can be considered a performance enhancing substance or not. It is also not relevant whether the rider ingested any methadone in the three days prior to the event or during an unknown period before. Methadone is not allowed to be used for medical treatment under the UCI AER.
3. No athlete can invoke his or her unawareness of the existence of anti-doping rules or the impossibility of having knowledge of these rules. When signing the backside of his/her licence, a rider has to declare that s/he undertakes to respect the Constitution and Regulations of the UCI, its Continental Confederations and its National Federations. It is his/her responsibility to make sure that s/he knows what s/he is signing to. Being the expression of the general principle of law that “ignorance of law is no excuse”, art. 7 UCI AER rules that it is “the personal responsibility of every rider to ensure that they neither use any prohibited substance or prohibited method nor permit any such substance or method to be used”. This includes the obligation to achieve knowledge on the respective provisions.
4. The gravity of the medical condition of a rider, the well-documented prescription of methadone as pain reliever in his/her condition, his/her advanced age and the specific circumstances of the aims why s/he participated at the event, his/her role model for youths in the fight against doping in sports over years and his/her honesty and personal integrity, constitute sufficient elements under UCI AER to reduce the duration of suspension to the minimum, which is half a year. According to UCI AER, the period of inactivity will be automatically added to the period of suspension.
In May 2003 the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has reported an anti-doping rule violation against the cyclist Alicia Pitts after her A and B samples tested positive for the prohibited substance Methadone.
Thereupon the USADA Anti-Doping Review Panel established that the Athlete had a legitimate medical condition well documented by her physician that requred her use of Methadone. Also the Athlete had not used the substance in the preceding 3 days and therefore not mentioned on the Doping Control Form as stipulated. As a result the Review Panel ruled that no doping violation occurred.
After deliberations regarding disciplinary proceedings against the Athlete the UCI appealed the USADA Decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The UCI requested the Panel to set aside the UCI Decision and to impose a sanction on the Athlete.
The Panel finds that the presence of a prohibited substance had been established in the Athlete's samples and accordingly that she committed an anti-doping rule violation.
Considering the applicable Rules the Panel holds that it does not matter whether the substance of Methadone can be considered a performance enhancing substance or not. It is also not relevant for this fact whether the Athlete ingested any Methadone in the three days prior to the event or during an unknown period before.
The Panel agrees that the USADA Doping Control Form in question only asks for declaration of medication and supplements taken during the preceding 3 days and does not provide for a place on the form to declare medications taken earlier. The Panel deems this Form is not in full line with the applicable UCI Rules.
Further the Panel determines that there are sufficient grounds for a reduced sanction, although the Panel regrets that the UCI Rules allows no exceptional circumstances for exclusion of a suspension.
Therefore the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides on 19 December 2003
1.) The appeal filed by the UCI on 21 August 2003 is upheld.
2.) The decision of USADA of 29 May 2003, 1 July 2003 and communicated on behalf of USADA on 3 July 2003 is annulled.
3.) Mrs. Pitts is sanctioned as follows:
- disqualification from the Track World Cup Qualifier of 28 March 2003 in Hollywood, Florida, USA;
- suspension for six months from 20th December 2003 to 31 July 2004.