Ukrainian synchronized swimmer Veronika Hryshko has been given a 4-months suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. Hryshko was a 2019 World Champion in the highlight routine and also a bronze medalist in the free routine combination.
On October 30th, 2019, the 19-year old Hryshko provided out-of-competition urine and blood samples at her home in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The test was done by the IDTM on behalf of FINA.
Hryshko tested positive for Furosemide, which is banned as a diuretic and masking agent. While Furosemide itself does not have any significant performance-enhancing properties, it can be used to mask the presence of other performance-enhancing drugs.
Hryshko, upon receiving notice of the charge, admitted to the fact of the violation and waived an analysis of her “B” sample. She says that furosemide was part of her treatment for ‘sudden pain’ and ‘a high fever.’ While the FINA documentation excluded the exact diagnosis, saying it is not relevant to their decision, that the athlete was ‘correctly diagnosed.’ While she told the doctor she was an elite athlete and that there were some substances that she could not take, the doctor told her that he was not an expert in sports medicine, but that she needed urgent treatment.
““…otherwise the consequences may be very bad,” the athlete’s statement said. “I felt really bad and was very scared for my health. I was afraid that if I do not receive immediate cure, I may have complications with my health that can deprive me of an opportunity to continue my sports career. That is why I agreed to take the medicines that the doctor told me to take.”
The doctor administered Furosemide 2.0 by IV at the hospital and was prescribed the drug to take as a 20 mg dosage one time per month.
In light of the medical explanation, the FINA Anti-Doping Panel has ruled that because the athlete did not act with intent, the reduction of the 2-year maximum suspension for Furosemide to 4 months is justified.
“The Doping Panel finds that while the Athlete was to a small degree careless in the fulfillment of her anti-doping responsibilities – due to the sudden health crisis – her fault is not significant in relation to the admitted ADRV. FINA does not contest this determination,” the report reads.
FINA goes on to say that they could not find an outcome of “no fault or negligence,” which would be equivalent to closing the case without sanction, because the athlete did know that the substance was administered. The panel said that the athlete still bears responsibility, even in the circumstance of emergency treatment administered by a doctor.
Hryshko’s sanctioning period officially began on December 23rd, 2019, which means that the April 24th, 2020 expiration date has already passed. She was also required to forfeit all results and prizes earned after the test on October 30th, 2019.
While Hryshko is a synchronized swimmer and therefore unlikely to compete in the International Swimming League, that league’s hard-line stance on doping would make a pool swimmer in the same scenario ineligible for competition.
The full explanation is below:
In summary, the Athlete’s explanation for the AAF is that she suddenly fell ill and was injected with medicine, including Furosemide, at a local hospital as part of the required medical treatment. Specifically, on October 29, 2019 the Athlete suddenly felt poorly while at her home. She experienced sudden pain and a high fever. The Athlete was very concerned and promptly attended at a local hospital in Kharkiv where she saw a doctor who was on duty. This doctor correctly diagnosed the Athlete’s ailment. The medical diagnosis prepared by the doctor was duly filed. 4.3 Immediately after the diagnosis was provided, the Athlete was told by the doctor that she needed urgent treatment. The Athlete wrote in her Defense Brief that she was told; “…otherwise the consequences may be very bad. I felt really bad and was very scared for my health. I was afraid that if I do not receive immediate cure, I may have complications with my health that can deprive me of an opportunity to continue my sports career. That is why I agreed to take the medicines that the doctor told me to take.” The Athlete was given Furosemide 2.0 ml by intravenous at the hospital on October 29, 2019. In addition, she was prescribed various medications including Furosemide 20 mg one time per month.
4.4 The Athlete told the doctor treating her that she participated in elite sports, was subject to strict anti-doping rules and she could not take certain prohibited substances. The doctor was not a specialist in sports medicine. The doctor replied that the medicines he wished to administer were absolutely necessary for her treatment and would not improve her general fitness nor would they enhance her sport performance. As the Athlete was a day patient in the hospital she did not have easy access to a device or the internet to conduct an online search of the proposed medicines. The Athlete knew a search for prohibited substances in whatever she was given was her duty and responsibility as an elite athlete. Instead, as she was sick, worried and vulnerable the Athlete trusted the doctor’s assurances that the medicine he was giving her was (i) a proper treatment for her condition and, critically, (ii) the medicine would not breach the strict anti-doping rules she was subject to. The Athlete
accepted the proposed treatments.
4.5 On October 30, 2019, the Athlete still felt unwell but had left the hospital. The blood and urine samples were collected from the Athlete at her home that morning. 4.6 The Athlete acknowledges that she received Furosemide at the hospital as part of her emergency medical treatment. However, she insists that she did not cheat nor did she engage in doping. She maintains that she did not intend to enhance her sport performance but, to the contrary, merely wished to protect her health in the medical emergency she faced. The Athlete was ill and was frightened when she trusted the doctor’s assurances. For this reason she did not insist on checking the composition of the medicine she was given.
4.7 The Athlete does not blame anyone else for her situation and is regretful for what has happened. The Athlete frankly acknowledges that it was her responsibility to check the composition of all medicine she takes. In the result, the Athlete seeks a sanction of a warning involving no period of ineligibility for the admitted ADRV as she submits she has No Fault or Negligence for the ADRV. Alternatively, if a period of ineligibility is required, the Athlete believes a very short sanction in the range of four months is appropriate.