The United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) has given USA Swimming National Teamer Will Licon a public warning for an anti-doping rules violation.
“Licon, 24, declared the use of an inhaler called Breo Ellipta, which contains the prohibited substance vilanterol trifenatate, during an out-of-competition test on June 3, 2019. The results of that out-of-competition test were negative for any prohibited substances, including vilanterol trifenatate. Vilanterol trifenatate is a Beta-2 Agonist, prohibited under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the rules of the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (“Code”) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) Prohibited List. Beta-2 agonists are listed as Specified Substances, and therefore can result in a reduced sanction.”
USADA says that they reviewed Licon’s medical records and determined that a reduced sanction was appropriate on the basis of a prescription by a physician to use the inhaler to treat asthma, and that he declared the inhaler on his doping control form, and that he didn’t test positive for the banned substance.
All athletes are required to declare all medical substances, including supplements, over the counter medicine, and prescription medicine, when an anti-doping test is administered.
“Although Licon stopped taking the medication as soon as he learned it was prohibited, he should have obtained a TUE or investigated other permitted alternatives with his doctor prior to use, as USADA has stated in its guidance to athletes,” USADA said in a statement.
The case is similar to one in which Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros tested positive for a different asthma medication where she had a TUE, but let it lapse. Medeiros also received just a public warning for her test. While similar, there are two key differences: Medeiros’ banned substance actually showed up on her test, while Licon’s didn’t; and, according to USADA, Licon never had a TUE for his inhaler, while Medeiros did previously.
The case also holds similarities to that of US National Teamer Amanda Kendall, who declared a banned substance on her medical form, but did not actually test positive. Hers was also for an inhaler. She received a 3-month suspension from USADA. We have reached out to ask why the punishments were different.
Licon currently trains as a post-graduate swimmer at the University of Texas. Between the men’s and women’s programs there, the program has 4 swimmers who have registered doping violations in the last 18 months, with all four receiving greatly-reduced suspensions:
- FINA Full Doping Panel Says Willenbring Doping Test Was Accidental.
- Madisyn Cox’s Suspension Reduced to Six Months After Trimetazidine Detected in Multivitamin.
- Grace Ariola Tested Positive, But Found Without Fault by USADA.
Both Ariola’s and Willenbring’s positive tests came before they began official varsity competition for the University of Texas, while both Cox’s and Licon’s violations came after completing their NCAA eligibility.
Licon, 24, is primarily a breaststroker and IMer. He is a former NCAA, American, and US Open Record holder in the 200 yard breaststroke. He represented the US internationally at the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.
Licon didn’t race at this week’s US National Championships. He was announced as a member of the LA Current in June; we have asked the ISL for an update on his status within the league.