Freibergs suspended

Latvian out two years for doping

31.03.2015
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Freibergs (right) won't be eligible to return to play until early 2016. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images

ZURICH – The IIHF Disciplinary Board has handed down a two-year suspension to Latvian national team player Ralfs Freibergs for an anti-doping infraction committed during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games men’s ice hockey tournament.

Freibergs’ suspension began on February 23, 2014, and will end on February 22, 2016. During this time he is ineligible for the participation in all competitions or activities authorized or organized by IIHF or any IIHF Member Association.

The suspension was implemented after the Court of Arbitration of Sport dismissed an appeal by Freibergs.

The case concerns the use of a prohibited substance according to section S1. of the World Anti-Doping Code 2014 Prohibited List (Anabolic Agents). On February 19, 2014, immediately following the quarter-final game between Canada and Latvia, Freibergs was requested to submit to doping control. On February 22, 2014, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited Laboratory in Sochi notified the IOC regarding an adverse analytical finding found in the Player’s A Sample, namely an anabolic androgenic steroid called Turinabol.

The Player’s B-sample confirmed the adverse analytical finding of the A-sample. On 23 April, 2014 the IOC Disciplinary Committee decided that the Player committed a doping violation and correspondingly requested the IIHF to consider whether it should take any further action within its competence. On April 28, 2014 the IIHF General Secretary provisionally suspended Freibergs, and on May 5, 2014 the IIHF General Secretary provided Freibergs a provisional suspension hearing, during which he upheld the provisional suspension.

Freibergs appealed the decision of the IOC Disciplinary Committee to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. In its Arbitral Award, dated 17 December, 2014, CAS dismissed all of the arguments raised by the Player which mainly called into question the validity of the analytical results.

Contrary to the Player’s submissions, CAS found no reason to consider the analysis of the samples, which had been taken in Sochi by the Anti-Doping Olympic Laboratory Sochi, as invalid. According to Article 3.2.1, first sentence, of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), WADA-accredited laboratories are presumed to have conducted sample analysis and custodial procedures in accordance with the International Standard for Laboratories.

The player has not rebutted this presumption by establishing reasonable facts as the Court of Arbitration for Sport has decided in its Arbitral Award of December 17, 2014.In support of this decision, the Deciding Panel refers to the reasons set forth in this decision, namely under section IV., the Deciding Panel shares this view . As the Player’s attorney in his statement of February 17, 2015 upheld his allegation that the laboratory in Sochi was an unlawful institution and therefore not entitled to test the sample taken on February 19, 2014, the Deciding Panel wants to specify the following:

The Laboratory in Sochi has fulfilled all requirements set up by the Code. There is no clause to be found in the Code that requires the laboratories used by the IOC must be registered under local law. The laboratories must be accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which was the case with the Sochi laboratory. Therefore the Player’s argument that the analysis of the Players sample was invalid, because no legally (under Russian law) accredited laboratory was registered under the address ‘Adler District, Sochi’ (the – incomplete - address of the Anti-Doping Olympic Laboratory Sochi), has no legal meaning.

The period of ineligibility to be imposed for the violation of Code Article 2.1 according to IIHF Disciplinary Regulation Article 5.7, Code Article 10.2 - for the first violation - should be two (2) years.

The term of 2 year’s ineligibility results from IIHF Disciplinary Regulations Article 5.7, Code Article 10.2 – first violation; the status during ineligibility follows from IIHF Disciplinary Regulations Article 5.4, Code Article 10.10.1. According to IIHF Disciplinary Regulations Article 5.3, Code Article 10.9.3, the provisional suspension imposed by the IIHF is to be credited against the period of ineligibility ultimately imposed. Considering that the substantial delays in the hearing process until the decision of the IOC Olympic Disciplinary Committee and the period until the provisional suspension was imposed are not attributable to the Player (Code Article 10.9.1),the period of ineligibility starts one day after the result of the B-sample was notified.

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