3 Aussie Swim Stars Face Possible 2-Year Ban For Missed Drug Tests

Australian media is reporting that 3 notable Australian swimmers are facing possible competition bans due to a series of absences for routine, out-of-competition drug testing. Swimming Australia also confirmed it “has recently been informed by ASADA and FINA that members of the Australian Dolphins Swim team may have failed to update their whereabouts appropriately over the previous 12-month period”.

Olympic silver medalist in the women’s 200m butterfly, Maddie Groves, and fellow Rio teammates Thomas Fraser-Holmes and open water swimmer Jarrod Poort are all named by The Daily Telegraph as having missed 3 drug tests over a 12-month period, violating testing protocols.

Per The Daily Telegraph, Groves’ drug test administrator was unable to track the swim star down in San Diego, California, the locale at which Groves has been training as of late. ‘The drug tester went to the accommodation’s front office, which was unattended, and there was no further attempt to find Groves except by telephone. The drug tester left after an hour,” reads the article.

As for Fraser-Holmes, who, like Groves, is changing up his training regimen by not competing at this year’s World Championships, he says his missed testing was due to an unexpected dinner delay. “An extended dinner at his mum’s Gold Coast house delayed him getting home on time for his nominated 8-9pm time period for an unannounced drug test,” according to The Daily Telegraph.

“It was five to nine and I realised I needed to be home,” Fraser-Holmes said. “The only thing I did in that situation was to go on the app and change my whereabouts time, to 9.15-10.15, so I left my mum’s house straight away and I got home at 9.10pm.

“No one was there. At the time I didn’t know that the drug testers had been there. Two weeks on I got an email saying I could ­potentially have a third strike.”

Sports Lawyer Tim Fuller is representing Groves and Fraser-Holmes and expresses openly he feels the swimmers may have been ‘targeted’.

“It’s interesting that FINA have targeted two athletes who have never returned a positive test for a prohibited substance,” Fuller said. “Seemingly they are going after them for an alleged technical breach.” Poort has reportedly not yet made public comments on the situation.

A possible ban to the tune of 2 years would be extra devastating for Australian athletes, as the nation is set to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Several swimmers, such as James Magnussen and Cate Campbell, are opting out of this year’s World Championships and are instead targeting the Commonwealth Games as their next major international competition.

Update since original publishing; Comment by Mark Anderson, CEO of Swimming Australia:

“Both Swimming Australia and our athletes have been very clear on our position in relation to anti-doping both here in Australia and internationally. Each athlete is accountable and responsible for accurately providing their locations so testers can access them when required.” (Washington Post)

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2Fat4Speed
4 years ago

Can’t be sloppy when you have two strikes…

Uberfan
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
4 years ago

But my mum

Teamwiess
4 years ago

The drug testing protocols where you have to be on call all the time is extremely tough to adhere to. You have to be diligent about updating folks about your whereabouts at all times. But that is something you agree to when you become an elite swimmer. The fact here is that the last missed test was just that, the last one where they have three strikes before action is taken. Once you get the second strike, you have to be more diligent. This is a tough one and perhaps a better system for registering unforeseen events is needed but that is why you get multiple strikes in the first palce.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
4 years ago

Ouchhh !!

commonwombat
4 years ago

Is that guy their lawyer or their publicist ?? Keeping these details updated may be onerous but they should know the score. One-off unforseen events DO happen and that’s acceptable but they’d already missed two test; they should’ve know they’ve been “walking the line”. If this is emblematic of the current attitude of AUS national team swimmers, as has been alluded to in the article (admittedly its Murdoch media), then its time the riot act was read and some people either got it together ….. or handed in their papers. The major hit to AUS Swimming is to its overwhelming air of smug self righteousness

Swimmer
4 years ago

Agree that you can’t be sloppy (at any time, not just when you have 2 strikes), but for the system to work you also have to have confidence that the testers are going to do everything (reasonably possible) they can to track down the athletes. If the accounts above are correct, waiting 10 minutes isn’t enough, checking at the front desk isn’t enough. Both parties have a responsibility, but with the potential consequences for the athletes being so severe it doesn’t seem right to impose a 2 year ban when athletes who have tested positive have escaped with, for example, a backdated 3 month ban.

KeithM
Reply to  Swimmer
4 years ago

I think a 2 year ban is the max but they might receive one year depending on what happens at their hearing. Is this the real reason they are skipping Budapest? So now any subsequent penalty can be applied retroactively?

commonwombat
Reply to  KeithM
4 years ago

Poort is “open water” so unsure of his circumstances. Groves was training with Dave Marsh’s SwimMac group for at least some of this period. Re TFH, he announced that he was leaving Miami to train with the Bond Uni squad but he did not compete at all during the AUS season.

The penalty, should one be levied, would be backdated to start from the date of the 3rd missed test. Poort has been selected for open water in Budapest so this takes him out of that. There is no open water at CG so a 12 month holiday doesnt impact him there although it may come into play come open water selection trials for Pan Pacs which will probably… Read more »

Marley09
4 years ago

Sadly, the news is probably going to get worse for these three. Loss of training privileges, funding, sponsorships and a cloud hanging over them. The rules for these sorts of things are black and white without much ambiguity. Not so sure they’re getting the best advice from their sports lawyer blaming drug testers for “targeting” athletes. Probably best just to take their medicine (lol) hoping for a lenient penalty, be good boys and girls for a while, then quietly ask for a reduction for good behavior. If they play their cards right we could still see them at Commonwealth games.

commonwombat
Reply to  Marley09
4 years ago

Their best advice would be to took at the Lizzie Armistead case (a leading GBR cyclist) and see whether they have any room for appeal/wiggle room with regards to any of these infractions being waived due to procedural issues with regards to the testers not following procedure to the letter.

Two years probably seems tough given the penalties that have been handed down (or not handed down) for actual doping infringements but neither should they receive a slap on the wrist should it be proven that all 3 “misses” were due to their negligence.

Any penalty will be backdated to the date of the last infringement so a 12 month “holiday” will take CommGames out of play but unless… Read more »

Rodney
4 years ago

excuses excuses

chebstroke
4 years ago

It’s very easy to miss these tests. My personal experience was that FINA attempted to track me down, whereas UKAD (UK) waited at the address for the 1 hour slot with no attempt to locate me. To be fair, we were always aware that this was the case, and there are sections on ‘whereabouts’ system to add extra info if the location is complicated, or if there is security clearance needed for a venue etc.

I missed 2 tests (12 months apart – although I’m sure the missed tests lasted 18 months back then), and I literally spent 6 months making sure I was where I said I’d be!

Both missed tests occurred in exactly the same way for… Read more »

commonwombat
Reply to  chebstroke
4 years ago

Thanks for your insight into how this operates “in real life” !

New beginnings
Reply to  chebstroke
4 years ago

Seems like this all could be mostly solved with modern technology. Uber knows where you are 24/7 now.

Swimmer
Reply to  chebstroke
4 years ago

I was also subject to this testing and don’t think it is that easy to miss a test – particularly if you’re training at home and with your normal routine. If you’re sick and you have to miss training or you get an unexpected session off, it might be that the last thing you want to do is change your hour slot, but it’s part of your responsibilities as an athlete to do this. They’re making it easier to do this all the time – you can text, you can email, there’s an app… it takes 2 minutes and it’s got to be worth the alternative.

chebstroke
Reply to  Swimmer
4 years ago

Didn’t say “last thing you want to do”, I said “last thing you think about”. Of course it is a duty that should be upheld, I’m just saying that actually it’s quite easy to forget when plans change suddenly… especially when you’re exhausted. No excuses though… I was livid with the lack of responsibility I had shown. On the other hand, many of my team-mates never changed their whereabouts and never missed a test.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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