The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand has imposed a six-month ban on a golfer for the presence and use of Ostarine, a banned testosterone simulant in the world of sports.
The case serves as a stark reminder of the principle of strict liability, emphasising that athletes are responsible for any prohibited substances in their system, regardless of intent.
The athlete in question underwent an in-competition drug test in November 2022, which returned a positive result. A B-sample analysis subsequently confirmed this initial finding in March 2023. The presence of Ostarine, a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM), triggered concerns within the sporting community.
Ostarine, classified as a SARM, mimics the effects of testosterone by enhancing muscle mass and strength. However, its use comes with a range of potential health hazards. These include an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as life-threatening liver toxicity. It is essential to note that no SARMs are approved for medical use in humans, making their presence in an athlete’s system a cause for alarm.
Despite the athlete’s denial of intentionally taking Ostarine, the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand adhered to the principle of strict liability. As a result, they imposed a six-month ban, backdated to January 31, 2023. While this allows the athlete to return to sports after the suspension, her national title will be disqualified.
Drug Free Sport New Zealand Chief Executive, Nick Paterson, emphasised the importance of strict liability in sports. He underlined that athletes, regardless of their level of competition, are bound by this principle. Athletes are not required to prove the origin of the substance found in their system. Paterson stressed that all athletes are responsible for any prohibited substance’s presence, whether it was taken intentionally or not.
This case is a potent reminder that maintaining a clean sporting environment is paramount. Athletes must exercise extreme caution regarding the substances they ingest, even inadvertently. Paterson also highlighted the inherent dangers of SARMs, urging athletes to steer clear of these prohibited substances to safeguard their health and maintain the integrity of their chosen sports.
The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand’s decision to ban the golfer for six months for Ostarine use underscores the uncompromising nature of strict liability in sports. Athletes at all levels must be vigilant about the substances they consume, recognising that they are ultimately responsible for any banned substances found in their systems. The importance of adhering to anti-doping regulations cannot be overstated in pursuing fair competition and athlete well-being.