FINA has released the full decision of the doping panel presiding over South African Roland Schoeman‘s case, which in February handed the 39-year-old a one-year suspension retroactive to May 18, 2019.
The document states that at an out-of-competition anti-doping test that day, Schoeman said he had used nine supplements in the prior seven days. On July 10, he was notified that his urine sample tested positive for GW 501516, a hormone and metabolic modulator considered to be a cancer risk. The next day, Schoeman requested that the B sample be tested and accepted a provisional suspension as of 18 July 2019.
On Aug. 19, FINA confirmed that the B sample also found a presence of GW 501516, and charged Schoeman with a violation of the FINA Doping Control Regulations. The doping panel took over jurisdiction of the case, and on Sept. 22, Schoeman requested a hearing and extra time to complete his investigation into the reason for the positive test.
Eventually, the hearing was postponed to Jan. 2020 because Schoeman was investigating “23 different products and other possible causes of the positive test.”
On Jan. 24, Schoeman contended that despite his “diligence in testing all products which he believed could reasonably have been the cause of his positive test,” and spending approximately $16,500 to do so, he did not determine the source of the positive test. But concluded that for a variety of reasons, contamination was the most likely reason.
Among those reasons was that “GW1516 is not legally permitted in any medications, supplements or foods, but anti-doping organizations have cautioned that nutritional supplements may be contaminated with this substance,” and that his tests in March and June were negative, which is inconsistent with “regular, intentional use of the substance, but consistent with possible contamination.”
Schoeman also noted that there was a “substantial delay” in notifying him of the positive test, and that “may have contributed to his inability to identify the source of his positive test” – for example, the decision notes, he wasn’t able to test the exact batches he ingested.
“Regrettably, notice to the Athlete of his positive test was delayed through no fault of the Athlete for nearly two months after sample collection and until 10 July 2019,” the decision reads. “Neither FINA nor the WADA accredited laboratory provided any explanation for this delay.”
Usually, an athlete’s first doping suspension would be two years, unless he can locate the source of contamination, which Schoeman was not able to do. The doping panel acknowledged the discrepancy and accepted the findings of the costly investigation, with the added note that FINA’s delay in notification lessened the case against him.
Despite the ban, the Olympic postponement opens the door for Schoeman to qualify for a fifth Games after he is reinstated on May 18. He would have missed South African Nationals, which were originally scheduled for April 4-9, but were rescheduled even before the delay was official.