Italian swimmer Alex di Giorgio has been handed an 8-month ban by the National Anti-Doping Court (NADO) of Italy. The suspension is backdated to October 8, 2020, the date of his provisional suspension, and will expire on June 7, 2021, prior to the start of the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games.
The ban stems from a positive doping test in September of 2020.
Di Giorgio’s test was conducted on September 13 in Livigno, Italy during a training camp. He has been given a temporary suspension by the Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal and faces up to a 4 year ban for a first offense.
NADO did not give justification for the reduction of the suspension, though the implication of an 8-month ban is that he convinced the panel both that he did not intentionally take the substance, and that he provided some plausible alternative for how it got into his body.
The 2012 and 2016 Italian Olympian tested positive for ostarine, also known as Enobosarm, which is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM). Developed for the treatment of medical conditions like muscle wasting and osteoporosis, it can be used by athletes to increase physical stamina and fitness, producing effects similar to anabolic steroids.
The drug is intended to target the body’s androgen receptors to cause them to respond similarly to how they would to testosterone but without the side effects.
In 2017, in the US, a dietary supplement called Tri-Ton was tested by the USFDA and found to contain ostarine. In 2016, according to the Sports Integrity Initiative, there were only 28 AAFs across all sports for the substance, much lower than the more common stanozolol, for example, which had 294 findings.
While ostarine is not approved for human use or consumption anywhere in the world, it has increasingly turned up in supplements and has seen a growing number of positive tests. By 2018, the most recent report released by WADA, there were 45 positive tests. In 2018, the Sports Integrity Initiative reported that at least 60 products on its “High Risk List” contained ostarine.
The 30-year old swimmer was a member of the Italian 800 free relay that won gold at the 2013 Mediterranean Games. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, he swam a leg on Italy’s prelims 800 free relay, where he split 1:47.74 and the team placed 9th. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, he also swam on the prelims 800 free relay, splitting 1:47.93 as the relay finished 11th.
He currently trains at the Federal Center of Verona under coach Matteo Giunta in a group that includes the country’s most famous swimmer Federica Pellegrini, along with Stefania Pirozzi, Carlotta Zofkova, and others.
Di Giorgio also must pay the cost of the proceedings, calculated at 378 Euros.