Should have known better?
Wolfsburg may still get through to the playoff stage even after finishing third in their group losing to Man Utd and CSKA Moscow winning their match against Turkish side, Besiktas.
That is because two players from CSKA, Sergei Ignashevich and Alexei Berezutsky were suspended for the Besiktas match following tests that proved positive for doping following the club’s match against Man Utd on 3rd November.
UEFA’s decision to suspend both players is significant because regulations state that if more than one player from the same side tests positive for banned substances, the team could be disqualified. In this case, the two players showed traces of ‘Stimulant S6″ which is on WADA’s (World Anti Doping Agency) list of banned substances.
CSKA Moscow is fighting back stating that the players took Sudafed, a commonly used nasal decongestant used to combat colds. As per the club, the medication itself is not prohibited by UEFA. Their mistake was their failure to notify the organization that these players were taking the nasal decongestant. It was “a clerical error.” A lesser crime which does not deserve so severe a punishment.
Sudafed contains pseudo-ephedrine which is a sympathomimetic amine (a compound that mimics the sympathetic nervous system responsible for regulating the “flight” or “fight” responses). Pseudo-ephedrine was on the banned list under IOC regulations till 2004 when WADA took over which placed it under the “monitoring ” category.
1. Stimulants: In-Competition Only: Bupropion, caffeine, phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, pipradrol, pseudoephedrine, synephrine.
They have revised the list again and pseudo-ephedrine will be reinstated under the banned category wef January 1st, 2010, just before the Vancouver Winter Olympics. However, the amount matters – it will only be prohibited when its concentration in urine is greater than 150 micrograms per milliliter.
Andreea Raducan was the unfortunate Romanian gymnast who was stripped of her gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics when she tested positive for pseudo-ephedrine after taking two cold tablets. The fault lay with the team doctor who should have known better but her gold medal was not reinstated being absolved of personal wrongdoing. Pseudo-ephedrine was dropped as a banned substance probably because it was common for athletes to use it to combat colds and there were no clear dosing requirements during competitions until now.
CSKA Moscow’s ejection from the CL would be far more extreme than that famous case.
UEFA when they meet on December 17th to decide the club’s fate, should take into consideration 1) Pseudoephedrine is still part of the monitored list, it is therefore not strictly a doping case. 2) The players in question have already been punished by their suspension from the Besiktas match 3) The fault could clearly lie with the team physician as demonstrated in the Raducan case.