Mullings stalled - Lawyers still await re-testing of B sample

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Nearly a month after requesting that the B sample for Steve Mullings be re-tested, lawyers for the Jamaican sprinter are still awaiting the procedure to be carried out at an independent laboratory.

Mullings, who won the 200m and finished third in the 100m at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Trials in June, was suspended after testing positive for the banned substance, Furosemide — a diuretic — at the four-day meet.

The A and B samples were tested at the Doping Control Laboratory at the INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier Research Center in Quebec, Canada, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approved lab.

Mullings was left out of the Jamaican team which competed at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in late August.

With time running out for the paperwork to be filed and the disciplinary meeting to be reconvened in mid-October, there is, however, hope that the release would be granted soon and the process can go ahead.

Alison Strange, one of the US-based lawyers representing Mullings, told the Observer on Monday that they were still awaiting a response from the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCo) to have the samples released for re-testing.

In a telephone interview, Strange said they had not received a reason the release had not taken place and that her team was "still working with JADCo" and was "hopeful" things would work out in time.

Strange said they had until October 3 to file documents for the meeting, which is scheduled for October 19 and 20. However, she declined to tell the Observer when the request was officially made.

Meanwhile, repeated efforts to contact executive director of JADCo, Dr Patrece Charles-Freeman, were fruitless as calls to her cellphone went straight to voicemail.

When her office was contacted, the Observer was told she was on leave and had just left the premises.

However, Garfield Ellis, director of communications and education at JADCo, said he was unaware of the situation.

At the August 22 disciplinary hearing held in Kingston, Mullings' lawyers successfully had the disciplinary meeting moved to next month, while requesting an unprecedented third testing of the sample.

The three-member Jamaica Anti-Doping disciplinary panel, led by chairman Lennox Gayle, accepted the application for an adjournment made by Mullings' representative and attorney-at-law Patrick Bailey at the Institute of Jamaica in Downtown Kingston.

After requesting "at least six to eight weeks" to properly prepare the defence for the 28-year-old athlete, Bailey explained then that the team needed more time to conduct its independent tests in a US-based laboratory after Mullings was advised of the positive B sample result on August 18.

"The reason for the (request of) adjournment, principally, is because of the shortness of the notice. In addition, Mr Mullings' B sample is being re-tested and the lab has advised that they would need six to eight weeks to do the re-testing and to furnish the report.

"We're doing that because we want to eliminate the possibility of error and... contamination, independently," he said.

Furosemide, commonly marketed under the brand name Lasix, is a drug used to increase the release of fluids and other substances from the body. The potent diuretic can be used to mask the presence of other drugs.

Under the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and (WADA) liability rules, athletes are responsible for anything that enters their system.

If the independent tests are positive, Mullings — who was slapped with a two-year ban in 2004 after being found guilty of having elevated testosterone levels in his body — will have to satisfy the panel that he did not knowingly ingest the substance to gain an unfair advantage.

Failure to do so could result in him facing a life ban from the sport.

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