Two of the three Australian swimmers facing a possible two-year ban due to a series of absences for routine, out-of-competition drug testing will see their lawyer try to throw out the allegations before the cases even reach a hearing. As reported last week, Olympic silver medalist in the women’s 200m butterfly, Maddie Groves, and fellow Rio teammates Thomas Fraser-Holmes and open water swimmer Jarrod Poort were all named by The Daily Telegraph as having missed 3 drug tests over a 12-month period, violating testing protocols.
For Groves specifically according to The Sydney Morning Herald, lawyer Tim Fuller, who also represents Fraser-Holmes, says that the attempt to locate her fell ‘well short of guidelines’. Groves says she was indeed at the scheduled place at the correct time, but testers failed to locate her at the San Diego University dorm. Although FINA says agents called Groves, she maintains her phone lists no missing calls nor did she hear any knocks on her door after testers encountered an unmanned front desk.
“FINA say that the testing authority must take all reasonable tests. We’re going to hotly contest that. We’re confident we can prove the testing authority were not compliant with WADA’s international testing procedures,” Fuller said.
“Maddie could proceed to a hearing but we’re in correspondence with FINA around her matter. She was astounded. We’re quite hopeful they will rule out the breach before going to a hearing.
“If it doesn’t, we’re confident it will be dismissed at a hearing. We don’t believe they have, at least in Maddie’s case, made good enough efforts to get hold of her.
“They called her coach in Australia and there’s no missed calls on her phone. They alleged they called the number. I can get hold of her every time. She was in the location she said she would be at. Maddie’s case is very strong.”
The lawyer confirms both Groves and TFH were tested soon after the missed appointments and those tests were indeed clean. He calls their particular situations ‘technical issues’ and not ‘doping issues’, which he says should fall under a possible reduced one-year ban, should appeals not be successful. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
“We’ll challenge the basis of all of the three tests to make sure the protocol around them was correct. FINA engage a contract with agents to go and conduct these tests. There is always going to be an occasion where someone doesn’t comply with the testing procedure.
“But from what we’ve learned from the third Whereabouts test, we’ve cast some doubt about the first two. So we will examine all three.
“We are going to appeal any of those breaches. If one of those allegations can be dismissed, the athlete then sits on two. There is precedent, right through to the Court of Arbitration for sport, where allegations like these have been dismissed on technicalities.
“Even on the third one alone, we are confident we can have them overturned,” says Fuller.