Champion Norwegian skier Therese Johaug’s use of a lip cream that she didn’t realize contained a steroid has ended up ruining not only the last ski season for her, but the upcoming one as well. A tough 18-month ban on competition handed down Tuesday means she won’t be allowed to compete in either the Winter Olympics or any events in the 2017-18 ski season.
The Court of Arbitraton for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland overrules the 13-month ban issued in February by Norway’s own athletics association and extends it. The much tougher punishment comes after the International Skiing Federation (FIS) filed an appeal of the Norwegian ruling.
The decision is devasting for Johaug, who has continued to train alone and had set her sights on one goal: Being able to ski in the next Winter Olympics in February and defend the gold medals she’s won in earlier Olympics. Now that goal has been dashed as well, and she’s been forced out of the entire upcoming ski season.
That’s because the decision made by CAS to suspend Johaug as punishment for her use of a steroid runs from October 18 last year. It thus runs until April 2018, after the upcoming season ends.
The CAS arbitrators noted that Johaug’s use of the lip cream Trofodermin, inadvertent or not, left her violating doping regulations. The cream, which had been purchased for her by the Norwegian ski team’s own doctor, contained an “anabolic agent” (Clostebol acetate) that is listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and thus “banned at all times, in and out of competition.” The team doctor resigned shortly after Johaug tested positive to the steroid in September of 2016.
The panel of CAS arbitrators determined that “Ms Johaug failed to conduct a basic check of the packaging, which not only listed a prohibited substance as an ingredient but also included (a) clear doping cautionary warning.
“Such omissions resulted in an anti-doping rule violation inconsistent with her otherwise clean anti-doping record. Nevertheless in order to ensure equality in applying anti-doping rules, the panel highlighted that it was obliged to apply a proportionate sanction consistent with the level of fault.” The panel thus settled on the 18-month ban as “appropriate.”
For reaction to the ban from Johaug and others, click here.