BRITISH WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL player Simon Gibbs has lost an appeal against a two-year ban for testing positive for the party drug mephedrone, despite claims that substance came from a spiked drink.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Wednesday Gibbs couldn’t prove that a friend put the banned stimulant in his drink on a night out in February 2010, when mephedrone was widely known as a legal high with the street name “meow meow.”
CAS rejected the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation’s appeal that the ban imposed by Britain’s anti-doping authority was too harsh.
A British appeal panel had upheld the penalty but suggested a sanction of “a few months” was appropriate.
Gibbs was a strong contender to represent Britain at the 2012 London Paralympic Games after being named best male newcomer at the 2009 British Wheelchair Sports Awards.
UK Anti-Doping, the British doping authority, said on Wednesday that Gibbs was banned through March 25, 2012, and cannot play or train with the British team until five months before the games open.
In his ruling, CAS arbitrator Michael Beloff said the World Anti-Doping Code allows reduced penalties for certain drugs — “specified substances” which can sometimes be used inadvertently — only when athletes prove how they ingested it.
“To permit an athlete to establish how a substance came to be present in his body by little more than a denial that he took it would undermine the objectives of the code and rules,” Beloff wrote, adding that Gibbs should not be stigmatized as a doper.
The case centered on Article 10.4 of the code relating to specified substances which, the arbitrator noted, was being tested at sport’s highest court for the first time. Beloff also said mephedrone was “hitherto unrecorded” as a doping product, though as a stimulant with similar properties to amphetamines it was prohibited in sport.
The court was told Gibbs “consumed a significant quantity of alcohol and repeatedly left his drinks unattended” on an evening spent in several pubs.
A friend of Gibbs gave evidence to the initial British hearing that he spiked a drink but the panel “did not find (his) evidence to be reliable and credible.”
At the CAS appeal heard in London, Gibbs’ legal team asked the sports court to consider his reputation as a role model, his Olympic ambitions and the fact mephedrone was a legal recreational drug at the time. It has since been criminalized by the British government.
Gibbs tested positive at a competition weeks after being selected for a national team training camp to prepare for the 2010 world championships.
– Associated Press