Michael Brinegar Formally Issued Four-Year Suspension After Competing at Doha Worlds During Appeal

Michael Brinegar -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Michael Brinegar Formally Issued Four-Year Suspension After Competing at Doha Worlds During Appeal

At last week’s U.S. Olympic Trials, Michael Brinegar competed in the prelims of the 400 and 800 freestyle but withdrew from the 1500, his best event, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reimposed a suspension for irregular findings in his Athlete Biological Passport, which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency believed to be signs of blood doping.

Brinegar was provisionally suspended August 18, 2023 to November 27, 2023, and all results achieved in the months after the adverse finding was recorded (July 20-December 31, 2022) were disqualified. Brinegar’s provisional suspension was overturned by an independent arbiter in November, but he learned in January that USADA was appealing to CAS to get his suspension reinstated. He was allowed to continue competing until a ruling was made, and that happened midway through Olympic Trials, resulting in Brinegar’s absence from the mile.

One month after learning of USADA’s appeal, Brinegar sat in limbo as he competed in the 10-kilometer open water swim at the World Championships in Doha, where a top-10 finish or being the highest-placed finisher among swimmers from the continent would result in qualification to swim the event at the Paris Olympics.

Ivan Puskovitch was the top American in that race, placing 14th to Brinegar’s 19th, avoiding any further controversy for the Olympics with Brinegar now suspended. However, he did compete in that Worlds race while under appeal, denying another a swimmer a chance to push for a spot in Paris.

Brinegar previously represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics after placing second to Bobby Finke in both the 800 and 1500 free at the 2021 Olympic Trials.

A USADA statement announcing Brinegar’s suspension included further details on the case:

“The CAS award sets aside the initial decision that Brinegar did not commit a rule violation and instead imposes a four-year sanction for Brinegar’s use of a prohibited substance and/or method resulting in an Adverse Passport Finding after highly abnormal blood values in his Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) were identified as being caused by blood doping.

“The hematological ABP was launched in 2009 and comprises an individualized longitudinal data set designed to evaluate athletes’ various blood biomarkers over time. Blood doping methods such as blood transfusions and the use of Erythropoietic Stimulating Agents (ESAs) like erythropoietin (EPO) have measurable effects on certain biomarkers in the blood. By analyzing an athlete’s blood values over time, experts can identify atypical patterns associated with blood doping while excluding natural variability. In this case, three samples collected from Brinegar between July 20, 2022 and September 27, 2022 showed values consistent with blood doping, specifically the use of ESAs, as confirmed by unanimous expert evaluation of Brinegar’s blood profile in early 2023.

“The use or attempted use of ESAs and manipulation of blood or blood components, including, but not limited to blood transfusions, are prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) National Anti-Doping Policies, and the World Aquatics Doping Control Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

“Brinegar’s four-year period of ineligibility began on June 21, 2024, the date the CAS panel’s decision was issued. He receives credit for the time he was provisionally suspended from August 18, 2023 to November 27, 2023. In addition, Brinegar has been disqualified from all competitive results from July 20, 2022 through December 31, 2022, the dates encompassing his abnormal blood samples, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.”

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26 days ago

So we see that a Western athlete suspected of Drug cheating is immediately outed, its publicised and a ban ensues. Yet with Chinese athletes there’s an entirely different criteria applied. Inotherwords, No publicity (until investigative journalists uncover and expose it) and certainly No sanctioned bans.
Double Standards?
Conspiracy & Collision?
You decide!

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