This case must serve as a foreboding warning to all competitive athletes who rely on supplements and the casual advice of trainers, coaches and nutritionists.
The ITU announced today that Portuguese duathlete Sergio Silva lost the gold medal, his 8,500 Euro first prize and must endure a six month ban for failing a doping control test at the 2011 Gijon ITU Duathlon World Championship,
Silva’s plight could have been worse as the mandatory sanction for a first time doping violation is two years. However, the ITU Anti-Doping panel was persuaded by Silva’s documentation and leniency plea that he took a dietary supplement containing quantities of the prohibited substance Geranium Oil, also known as dimethylpentylamine or DMPA, on the mistaken advice of his nutritionist that the Top Fuel Launch he ingested did not contain any prohibited substances.
Silva’s sample was collected at the Gijon worlds on September 24, 2011 and submitted to the WADA-accredited National Anti-Doping Laboratory in Madrid, Spain. The A sample revealed the finding of DMPA. On January 19, 2012 the Madrid lab reported that analysis of the B Sample confirmed the finding of DMPA.
In a statement, the ITU started that while Silva qualified for a reduced ban, “the panel also felt Silva must also be held to the same standard as all other athletes. He was warned on the dangers of supplement use, relied on the flawed advice of his nutritionist and did not research further into the reference to DMPA on the supplement's label.” The ITU statement added: “It is the panel's hope that this case will prompt all triathletes to not only become aware of their responsibilities and obligations under ITU Rules and the WADA Code, but to take them seriously by being aware of everything they ingest and by avoiding the use of dietary supplements.”
Silva may appeal to the Court of Arbitration For Sport. But Silva’s reduced ban will end on May 9, before most of the major duathlon events are held.