In a press release published Saturday, July 16, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced the provisional suspensions of two athletes. Kenyan Lawrence Cherono who competes in the marathon and American 400-metre sprinter Randolph Ross both are out of the 2022 Eugene World Athletics Championships.

Trimetazidine

A sample collected from Cherono tested positive for trimetazidine, a substance that is prohibited under the 2022 Word Anti-doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List as a metabolic modulator. Substances in this category modify how the body metabolizes fat. Trimetazidine is approved for use in some countries to treat chest pain stemming from a lack of blood supply and oxygen to the heart. Trimetazidine is a non-specified substance, and a provisional suspension is mandatory following an adverse analytical finding for such a substance under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules unless certain conditions apply.

IF the drug sounds familiar, it is an angina drug connected to the doping case of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva at the 2022 Winter Olympics — it has been on the radar of anti-doping authorities for years. In this case, the 15-year-old Russian skater was cleared to compete in the women’s singles event after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that she does not need to be provisionally suspended ahead of a full investigation into a failed drug test from before the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine on Dec. 25 at Russian nationals; the test result came to light after she helped the Russian Olympic Committee team (ROC) earn gold in the figure skating team event.

Lawrence Cherono’s case

The AIU collected the sample from Mr. Cherono during an out-of-competition test on 23 May 2022. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory in Lausanne that analysed the sample received it on 27 May 2002 and notified the AIU of the adverse analytical finding on 13 July 2022. Mr. Cherono was travelling to Eugene at this time and was notified of the adverse analytical finding when he arrived in Eugene on 14 July 2022. In accordance with the Rules, the athlete was provided with an opportunity to show cause to the AIU why he should not be provisionally suspended.

Having considered the submission of Mr Cherono, received late on 15 July, the AIU has determined that a provisional suspension should apply with immediate effect and Mr Cherono will not take part in the marathon on 17 July.

The AIU notes that under the WADA International Standard for Laboratories, reporting of sample results should occur within twenty (20) days of receipt of the sample. In this case, the delay to the time of reporting was 47 days. The AIU has made a formal complaint to the laboratory in relation to this unacceptable delay, which has denied the opportunity for another Kenyan athlete to take the place of Mr. Cherono in the marathon.  

Two years ago, the now 33-year-old Cherono clocked a 2:03:04 finish time during the Valencia Marathon. He went on to finish fourth in the Tokyo Olympic Games Marathon in Sapporo, Japan with his 2:10:02 performance in the heat. HE finished less than two minutes behind gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge with his gold medal time of 2:08:38.

Cherono is the 2019 Boston and Chicago marathon champion. He also won the 2021 Valencia Marathon in the time of Cherono won in the time of 2:05:12.

Randolph Ross

The AIU release indicated that Randolph Ross has been issued a Notice of Allegation by the AIU alleging a violation of Rule 2.5 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules for tampering with the doping control process. The allegation arises out of the athlete’s conduct during the course of an investigation into a potential whereabouts violation. There was an unsuccessful attempt by the AIU to test Mr. Ross on June 18 2022 and the investigation into this matter concluded when Mr. Ross was interviewed by the AIU in Eugene on July 14.

The AIU has imposed a provisional suspension on Ross with immediate effect and Ross will not take part in the 400m heats on July 17.

The 21-year-old earned a gold medal in the 4 x 400m event during the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Raleigh, North Carolina native’s personal best is 43.85.

His father, Duane Ross, won a bronze medal in the 110m hurdles at the 1999 World Championships. The elder Ross later served a two-year suspension related to the case involving coach Trevor Graham and the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) case. Ross coached his son at North Carolina A&T and earlier this year was hired as director of track and field at Tennessee.

There is more to come from this.

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