Don Suspended For Missed Tests
British Triathlon has released the following information about British triathlete Tim Don.
Don Receives Three Month Suspension For Missed Tests
Tim Don, the World Triathlon Champion, has received a three month suspension from competition as a consequence of contravening British Triathlons Anti-Doping Regulations by missing three out-of-competition drugs tests in an 18 month period, it was announced today.
Don, 28, from Hampton, Middlesex, who has been a strong advocate of drug free sport throughout his career, does not intend to appeal against the ruling, despite the fact that the British Triathlon Association and the Independent Disciplinary Tribunal involved in the decision attributed the contravention to a combination of forgetfulness on the athletes behalf and his lack of understanding of the new testing system. Don has been tested for drugs on nine separate occasions during 2006, with no adverse findings.
Under the National Anti-Doping Policy, introduced by UK Sport last year, athletes are required to regularly update an on-line database specifying where they will be available for testing for one hour a day at least five days a week. If they are not at the stated location when UK Sports Doping Control Officer attends to take a sample, it is reported as a missed test to the respective governing body. Three missed tests over an 18-month period constitutes an anti-doping rule violation.
The online Whereabouts system was introduced in July 2005 but was reviewed and re-launched in August 2006 by UK Sport. UK Sport recently admitted there was a growing number of athletes across sports with missed tests risking suspension if they were unable to adhere to the new testing regime.
Norman Brook, Chief Executive of British Triathlon, commented:
The British Triathlon Association has rules which are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code and consistent with the requirements of the International Triathlon Union and UK Sport. These rules require athletes in the national anti-doping pool to provide whereabouts information using the online system provided by UK Sport.
There is no suggestion that Tim Don was guilty of anything other than forgetfulness and a lack of understanding of the Whereabouts System. He has been a strong advocate of drug free sport throughout his career, and has been tested on nine separate occasions this year, with no adverse findings.
Tim is keen to use this experience to help other athletes avoid falling into the same trap. He has volunteered to work with British Triathlon and UK Sport to help raise awareness of the Whereabouts System, especially amongst young athletes entering the national anti-doping pool for the first time.
It is clear from the large number of missed tests reported by UK Sport that, as a governing body, we need to do more to raise the athletes awareness and understanding of their responsibilities, whilst UK Sport must continue with the improvements to the Whereabouts System.
Tim Don commented:
I have never taken, or even considered taking, a performance-enhancing drug in my life, and I am absolutely devastated to receive a suspension for contravening anti-doping regulations.
I fully understand that it is my responsibility as a professional athlete to log my whereabouts on the UK Sport system and accept that it is due to my forgetfulness and lack of understanding of the online system following its launch last year that I have received this ban. However, I am a clean athlete who has been tested for drugs on nine separate occasions this year with no adverse findings, and the Tribunal and British Triathlon acknowledge there is no way I was deliberately trying to miss a test.
On two occasions I was travelling overseas to represent Britain in international competition and failed to amend my location details. On the third occasion I went to an athletics competition in Loughborough which ran late. I arrived back home later than intended and minutes after the one hour window that is given for testing had expired.
I am totally aware of the importance of drug testing, and fully support the efforts made by UK Sport and British Triathlon to catch cheats. However, there have been problems with the Whereabouts System, and athletes have found it difficult to use, which is why UK Sport introduced a number of improvements to the system in August. For example, you can now update your information via an automated telephone line if you cant get on-line, as was the case with my second missed test.
I do not intend to appeal against the decision. Instead I will try and make the best of this situation by using what has happened to me to educate other athletes, especially young athletes who have just been introduced to national anti-doping pool, so that they understand how to use the Whereabouts System, and also that they fully comprehend the consequences of failing to do so.