U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspends Olympic champion for using penis enlargement drugs
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO : The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Monday said it has suspended Olympic 400 meter champion LaShawn Merritt for using penis enlargement drugs, which qualified in a doping offense.
Merritt, 24, of Norfolk, Virginia, had provided out-of-competition urine samples on October 28, 2009, December 8, 2009, and January 16, 2010. These samples resulted in adverse analytical findings for testosterone prohormones, which are prohibited in the class of Anabolic Agents under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) anti-doping rules, both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code ("Code") and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. The test results are consistent with the use of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
On Monday, an independent, three-member American Arbitration Association (AAA) panel issued its decision, suspending Merritt for a 21-month period. The suspension has been decided to have begun on October 28, 2009, which is the day the first sample was collected.
Merritt has also been disqualified from all competitive results he achieved at and subsequent to October 28, 2009, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.
In a hearing held on July 12, Merritt admitted that he had tested positive as a result of ingesting ExtenZe, which is a penis enlargement drug that he purchased at a 7-Eleven store. He said he did not purchase the product to enhance his sports performance.
"To know that I've tested positive as a result of a product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around," he said earlier this year.
Merritt could have faced a more serious 24-month suspension, but the panel agreed that the athlete did not use the drug to try and enhance his sports performance. "There is no dispute that this case represents the accidental ingestion of a Prohibited Substance," the panel said in its decision.
Furthermore, the panel said that athletes are not being warned about the use of products that deal with sexual functioning, which made the case unique. "As argued by Mr. Merritt, a person would not anticipate that they could test positive for a steroid from purchasing a product at a 7 Eleven Store," the panel said, adding that the sale of steroid products is now illegal in the United States.
"Purchasing a product at a 7 Eleven Store is different than purchasing a product at a Vitamin supplement store, for which athletes have been consistently warned," the panel continued.
Finally, the panel also agreed that Merritt purchased the product while he was in the off season and had taken a break from competition, which was his first break in two years. "His guard was down and his positive tests can in no way be said to have affected any competitions," the panel said.
The panel also agreed that Merritt had shown exemplary conduct and demonstrated tremendous character in making what 'had to be a painful and humiliating confession.'
Merritt's suspension will end on July 27, 2011.