In a case that illustrates the potential perils of self representation, the strict liability of anti doping offenses and an athlete’s burden to introduce exculpatory evidence after a doping violation is established, reasons for judgement were published by the UK’s National Anti Doping Panel handing a US boxer a 4 year suspension.
In the recent case (UK Anti Doping v. Ryan Martin) Martin tested positive for the presence of the prohibited substances androsterone and etiocholanone (metabolites of testosterone) following an in-competition test, after his bout against Josh Taylor in Glasgow on 3 November 2018.
At the time Martin was subject to the British Boxing Board of Control’s (“BBBC”) oversight who regulated the bout and at the same time was a participant in the WCB’s ‘clean boxing program’ which uses the Voluntary Anti Doping Association (“VADA”) as their privately hired anti doping testing agency. The BBBC adopt UKADR who give UK Anti Doping (“UKAD”) responsibility for drug testing and results management.
Interestingly the UKAD’s initial analysis of Martin’s sample returned a negative result however after learning that VADA testing revealed prohibited substances UKAD conducted further analysis which revealed the positive results.
The WCB handed Martin a 6 month suspension under their ‘clean boxing program’.
UKAD were not as lenient and sought a 4 year ban. Martin was ultimately self represented at the hearing. He admitted that the sample was positive for a doping violation however he suggested a tainted supplement was to blame. He called no evidence to support this suggestion. Ultimately the Panel found that the standard 4 year ban was warranted and Martin did not discharge any of the criteria to allow a reduced suspension. In reaching this result the Panel provided the following reasons:
“As has been made crystal clear in a number of cases…an Athlete who wishes to establish that he acted unintentionally bears the burden of showing, in the first place, how the Prohibited Substance entered his system. He has to discharge such a burden on a balance of probabilities, but, save in exceptional cases, a bare protestation of innocence or assertion that it must have been something to do with some supplement he had taken is unlikely to be sufficient.
Bearing in mind how little information Mr. Martin has provided to UKAD or submitted to us as to the possible source of the Prohibited Substance, notwithstanding the many opportunities he has been given to supply information and evidence, we find that Mr. Martin has not satisfied us that it is more likely than not that one or more supplements were indeed the means of ingestion”
The full judgement can be found here – UKAD v Martin