Teenage Sprinter, Issamade Assinga, Banned for Four Years

Teenage Sprinter, Issamade Assinga, Banned for Four Years

Mr. Dennis Koolaard (Chair), Mr. Stefan Fabien and I were the Panel who heard the matter of World Athletics v. Issamade Asinga, SR/099/2024.

On 18 July 2023, Mr. Asinga, a student at Texas A&M University and a sprinter of Surinamese nationality, provided a urine Sample Out-of-Competition that resulted in an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF). He tested positive for GW1516 and its metabolites, a substance listed on the 2023 World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List (Class 4.4.1), as a Non-Specified Substance, prohibited at all times.

Mr. Asinga did not contest the Presence of the Prohibited Substance in his system but he denied that its Presence was caused by deliberate doping. He claimed that his positive test result was a consequence of consuming contaminated Gatorade Recovery Gummies, which he received as a gift at a ceremony on July 10, 2023 where he won the title of Gatorade 2023 National Boys Track and Field Player of the Year. He argued that the contamination of the product occurred during the manufacturing process or originated from a raw ingredient used in the production facility.

After the hearing and careful deliberation, we found, among other things, a discrepancy between the test results: Mr. Asinga’s unsealed jars tested positive for GW1516, while the sealed jars tested negative. We ultimately found that Mr. Asinga did not establish, by a balance of probability, that the Gatorade Recovery Gummies were contaminated during manufacturing or from a raw ingredient. Since he could not prove the source of the Prohibited Substance, he did not succeed in establishing that the Anti-Doping Rule Violation was not intentional. We therefore imposed a period of Ineligibility of four years, which began on the date that the Provisional Suspension was imposed on August 9, 2023.

Our decision upholds an important principle in cases where an athlete argues that the AAF was the result of a contaminated product: the athlete is required to establish the source, that is, how the Prohibited Substance entered his system. In this case, Mr. Asinga tried to argue that contamination occurred at the manufacturing facility and it was WA’s burden to prove that the Gummies were not contaminated during manufacturing or from a raw ingredient. Although this was an interesting argument, this is not the proper test since the burden lies with the athletes to establish source. Furthermore, this proof must not be based on speculation, but on specific, persuasive and objective evidence, which is essential to protect clean athletes and ensure a level playing field.