Brothers’ Suspension Reduced to 2 Years For Refused Doping Test

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has reduced Will Brothers‘ suspension from four years to two for a refusing to take a doping control test on medical grounds in 2015.

Brothers was selected for an out-of-competition test in August of 2015, with doping control agents arriving at his apartment in Vancouver, Canada. Brothers says he underwent a panic attack that night and was unable to submit to the test. His refusal to take the test caused FINA to slap him with a four-year suspension beginning on August 26, 2015, the date of the missed test.

But Brothers appealed the decision on four grounds. He says his panic attack was “compelling justification” to refuse the original test, that the officers at his apartment that night did not properly warn him about the consequences of refusing the test, that he was not intentionally cheating by refusing the test due to the influence of the panic attack and that a four-year suspension is not proportional to his level of fault.

Doping control officers allege that when they arrived at Brothers’ apartment, he invited them inside and was “friendly and cooperative” and did not behave “in a manner which in any way could be described as ‘panic’,” according to the CAS document. They say Brothers’ girlfriend, in the apartment at the time, told Brothers to call his father, and that they could hear part of Brothers’ phone conversation with his father in which his father allegedly said “don’t say anything else, you don’t have to tell them anything,” and told Brothers to refuse the test and that they would “deal with the suspension.”

On the other hand, the doping control officers did note in their report that Brothers “looked very nervous, his face was red and he wouldn’t look at me.”

CAS partially upheld Brothers’ appeal, supporting some of his arguments but not all. Ultimately, his suspension was reduced from four years to two. The CAS panel declined to officially label Brothers’ state as a “panic attack,” but did rule that he made the decision to refuse the test under “mounting stress, perhaps under extreme stress.” The panel pointed to Brothers’ extensive medical history (stretching back to seven different operations prior to the age of two and forward to more recent health issues Brothers says stemmed from overtraining under a previous coach) qualified as “extraordinary circumstances” that called for a reduced sentence from the original four years.

Brothers has more recently been diagnosed with depression and associated anxiety (in March 2015) and also suffers from asthma and basilar migraines, among other conditions.

The suspension itself won’t have significant swimming impact, as Brothers officially retired from the sport within a week of the refused test. He also says he had decided to “take a break from swimming” prior to the night of the refused test.

His official suspension is now officially over as of August 26, 2017, but Brothers remains retired from the sport.

You can read the full CAS decision here.

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4 Comments on "Brothers’ Suspension Reduced to 2 Years For Refused Doping Test"

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Bearly Breathing

If I was doping, I can see how being asked to provide a blood sample would cause a panic attack. Makes complete sense to me.

He quit swimming he just forgot to inform the doping people. This doesn’t matter at all.

He forgot to tell anyone because he only quit swimming after the test… It’s hardly believable when an athlete refuses a test, then says, oh, I had decided last week I was going to retire, but forgot to tell you.

Emilya, you clearly don’t know this young man at all. The fact is that he had quit swimming in early April of 2015 after a poor showing at Canada’s World Championships trials. Shortly after the trials, he moved from Victoria where he had trained for many years, to Vancouver to continue his studies, not to train. He was already living in Vancouver (and not training) at the time he refused the test. So there were months between his retirement and the refused test. Admittedly, he was lax in submitting paperwork. What is your excuse for making the baseless claim that he quit swimming after the test? It’s easy to make cheap attacks on the internet, but remember these are real… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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