Update: Court of Arbitration Reduces Sanctions on Canadian Swimmer William Brothers

Photo Courtesy: Catherine Ladd

In May of 2016, FINA sentenced Canada’s William Brothers with a four year suspension from the sport of swimming for evading a drug test. It was cited in their original press release that the circumstance of the attempted drug test in August 2015 was in violation of FINA D.C. Rule 2.3 – evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection.

Following the decision of FINA’s doping panel, Brothers appealed the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). After hearing from both the Appellant (Brothers) and Respondent (FINA), it was decided that Brothers did commit a violation of FINA D.C. Rule 2.3, however, the sanction imposed did not appropriately reflect the circumstances.

Today, more than two years after the incident and more than a year after his sentencing, Brothers’ sentence was cut in half from a four year to a two year sentence. Since his sentence began from the date of the incident (August 26, 2015), his two year sentence has elapsed and Brothers has since announced his retirement from the sport of swimming.

Brothers provided the following statement to Swimming World,

It has been a long and somewhat difficult few years for me. During the 2014 swim season I started to develop significant medical challenges and injuries. The latter of which were certainly related were to my training program. I decided to switch training programs in 2015 for both a fresh start and for academic reasons. However, my medical condition stagnated and I continued to experience the same medical concerns and mounting overuse injuries. In early 2015, I also developed some mental health issues and this crested with the death of my long-time swim coach in April of 2015. For these reasons, I had decided that I needed to step away from swimming in the best interest of my mental and physical health.

At the height of dealing with all of this, at the end of August 2015, I had a FINA testing mission come to my apartment late at night and for medical reasons I was not able to submit to the test. FINA heard my case early in 2016 and despite the medical evidence submitted by my doctors and by FINA’s own medical professionals, they handed down a 4-year suspension, the maximum possible penalty for my case.

I felt that the FINA decision was overly harsh and disproportionate to the offense, so I decided to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration of Sport. I am happy with the final decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and feel as though they did all they could to mitigate the penalty within World Anti-Doping Agency set guidelines.  They seemed to actually consider the medical evidence this time and recognized that there was no intent to evade or cheat. I am also happy that they acknowledged that the FINA DCO’s did not necessarily conduct themselves in the way they should have, given my condition at the time of the testing mission.

I have always competed clean and up hold the values of sportsmanship. Since I have left the sport, I have made a recovery from many of the issues I faced.  I would like to thank my family, the coaches at the University of British Columbia and my doctors for their support and in my recovery. I look forward to life long swimming for fitness.

To read the full Arbitral Award delivered by the CAS click here.

Alex and William Brothers contributed to this report. 

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4 years ago

Mackenzie Holden