Cooksey, Straight To The Point: WADA Hell Are They Doing? 9

Chris thinks we need to do a better job with how punishments are handled for positive drug tests. What do you think?

Cooksey, Straight To The Point: WADA Hell Are They Doing?

Last week we got the unfortunate news that Christian Craig failed a WADA test following the 2018 Daytona Supercross. The FIM and WADA notified Craig of the failed test on January 23rd, 2019. Yes, nine months after the Daytona test. The inconsiderate procedures and lack of communication from the FIM and WADA have put Craig’s career in jeopardy. He is facing the possibility of being the fourth rider to have his right to race taken from him. As of right now he is allowed to race, but WADA has made it clear that racing anywhere, even if the series isn’t FIM sanctioned, will not be allowed. Furthermore, his possible punishment will not begin until he stops racing, which might be why Cade Clason has not been issued a punishment for his infraction.

Cade Clason tested positive for Adderall in Spring 2017, and his situation is eerily similar to the James Stewart’s. Stewart was suspended 16 months for not having a Therapeutic Use Exemption for his doctor-prescribed Adderall. After the positive test James Stewart applied for and was granted a TUE. By granting Stewart a TUE the FIM/WADA confirmed he needed the drug and was not cheating, thus the FIM ensured Stewart made nothing more than a paperwork error. A 16-month suspension seems a bit excessive for a paperwork error. Clason also says his suspension was nothing more than a paperwork error, as he claims to have filled out the proper paperwork but didn’t receive clarification from the FIM that it was approved. 

Clason still doesn’t have a resolution and this leads me to believe it’s because he is competing in the Canadian Nationals, which is not under the FIM umbrella. Unfortunately, his suspension reads, “He is therefore barred from participating in ANY Sports Competition until further notice.” This a bit excessive and banning participation outside of their jurisdiction feels illegal. Punishments handed out from WADA are based around Olympic Sports and the timeline of those punishments reflects a four-year competition model. This doesn’t work for Supercross/motocross. These punishments are essentially career-killers for riders.

Broc Tickle was the third of these four riders to be punished by WADA and the FIM, as he tested positive for 5-methylhexan-2-amine. After extensive research I learned this could easily have been taken by Tickle as a performance enhancer, but more likely it was a residual ingredient from a tainted supplement or cold medicine. Assuming he was taking it as a performance-enhancing supplement, the punishment is still excessive. Tickle was given a 24-month suspension and isn’t able to resume his career until February 10th, 2020. Assuming the Supercross series follows a similar schedule in 2020 that means he won’t be eligible until the seventh round. It’s unrealistic for a team to sign a guy to a lucrative contract if he isn’t eligible until round seven. The suspension timeline makes no sense, it needs to be race-based. His penalty should be a set number of events, not a blanket calendar date intended for Olympic athletes.

In every sport competitors are looking for any advantage, and in Supercross/motocross the physical and mental demands are superhuman. Seeing riders collapsing after the second moto at WW Ranch was a testament to how difficult the sport can be. In addition to that, these guys are required to be at Southwick in six days time to do it all over again. It’s unreasonable to think guys won’t look for legal and illegal supplements to heal and recover. Unfortunately, the FIM and WADA are handing out death sentences if riders cheat, make a paperwork error, or take the wrong cold medicine.

The punishment handed out is one thing. But one thing racers don't like is uncertainty. Having a long gap between when they have a positive test and punishment is meted out leaves them in a limbo that's mentally tough.

I know doping is an issue in all sports but using a regulatory body based overseas who isn’t immediately available for questions and communication is unreasonable. Most agree there needs to be some sort of testing, but in my opinion the purse money needs to be increased substantially before promoters waste money paying fees to have athletes drug tested. In the day and age of Lance Armstrong not failing any drug tests (he was brought down by Federal testimony) I have zero faith in current testing. I personally know a couple athletes in other sports who have consistently passed USADA and WADA tests while using banned substances. Are they catching cheaters or harassing guys who simply fail to read the label on their cold medicine?

I am not naive enough to think these uber athletes won’t look for an edge. Even if Christian Craig did use this substance to gain an advantage, the punishment should be swift and reasonable. Stop the career killing!

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.

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