US National Teamer Receives Public Warning for Anti-Doping Rules Violation

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:

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.


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3 years ago

Takes a banned substance and the tests are clean…how come?

Makes me think how many athletes are taking other banned substances without failling tests…

3 years ago
Natalia Amalfi
3 years ago

It confuses us…USADA sanction list, both Will and Amanda on the same med and forgot about TUE. The only thing we can come up with is USADA changed their handling toward ‘Negative result, but just forgot TUE’ over in one year(?).

Another confusion is that asthma is chronicle symptom. You need an inhaler for most of cases. The question is why he decided not to continue after learning it contains prohibited substances. If he has asthma, he does need to take it. Instead of stopping, filing TUE for the med he needs to help his symptom(s) would have been more appropriate?

I have a young athlete with asthma. Just want to know…Will seems to be a very nice… Read more »

3 years ago

Didn’t think I’d get to see the other end of the spectrum….. other people are out there getting tested positive and then claiming that they didn’t take the substance/ took them unknowingly, while this guy CLAIMED THAT HE TOOK A BANNED SUBSTANCE EVEN WHEN HE TESTED NEGATIVE. This is the level of honesty we need for our sport

Reply to  Justhereforfun
3 years ago

but its not the gold standard. He should have checked the med on the global Dro website before he took it. People are just spinning this as he is a good guy but its a pretty big failure to not know or follow the procedure.

3 years ago

I am a fan of Licon, watched him race since high school. But usada made it very easy to check if a medicine needs a TUE or not, just type in the name of the medicine into the link provided by USADA.,
It clearly states Breo is prohibited. Thus needs a TUE. When one qualifies for juniors, coaches would emphasize over and over about medications. At national camps, they emphasize that a lot too, Very confused why this happens to a veteran.
Also I think any physician who prescribes Breo would tell you it contains steroid. Adult asthma patients usually are familiar with various inhalers, and they progress from… Read more »

Reply to  Swimmom
3 years ago

Doping control is talked about a lot since juniors. The case of negligence Doesn’t make any sense

3 years ago

Anyone that knows Will knows he is an honest guy. Not to mention he’s salt of the earth kind. He declared the inhaler. His drug test came back negative. Give the poor guy a break.

3 years ago

asthma again? give me a break. so many elite swimmers have ashma. hmm

3 years ago

And yet everyone is terrified you can accidentally test positive for something by breathing in the wrong place. Here you have an example of someone who admitted to taking something and STILL didn’t test positive for it.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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