‘An honest athlete who erred’; CAS upholds ‘prohibited substance’ ruling against Njisane

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled against ace Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Njisane Phillip for the presence of a prohibited substance in a sample provided by him at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

The CAS ruling supports the decision of the Panam Sports ad hoc disciplinary commission on 15 November 2019 and will cost Trinidad and Tobago the team sprint gold medal at the 2019 competition. Phillip must also give up the individual sprint silver from the same tournament.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Njisane Phillip shows off his silver medal at the Toronto 2015 Pan America Games.
(Courtesy TTOC)

Trinidad and Tobago’s sprint team comprised of Njisane Phillip, Nicholas Paul, Kwesi Browne and Keron Bramble.

Panam Sports stressed, though, that Phillip was not a cheat and had not taken a performance enhancing drug. Instead, the organisation described the 29-year-old Siparia cyclist as ‘an honest athlete that made a mistake’.

“Panam Sports wishes to state that the prohibited substance found in the sample provided by Mr Phillip is not considered a performance enhancing substance,” stated the Panam release, “and believes that, regardless of the award by the CAS that confirmed the decision of the Panam Sports Ad Hoc Disciplinary Commission, Mr Phillip had no intention of cheating or having any unfair advantage over his competitors.

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“Panam Sports believes that Mr Phillip is an honest athlete that made a mistake and that he is committed to learn from the experience.”

The governing sport body for the Americas further credited Phillip’s response to the CAS ruling.

Photo: (From left to right) Trinidad and Tobago cyclists Keron Bramble, Njisane Phillip and Nicholas Paul show off their medals from the 2019 Pan American Games.
(Copyright TTOC)

“Panam Sports would like to express that it will continue its efforts in the fight against any kind of doping in sport and welcomes the response of Mr Njisane Phillip with regard to the award,” stated the release, “in which he asserts that in spite of the offense, he condemns all kinds of doping in sport.”

Phillip, according to a source close to the athlete, allegedly had small traces of marijuana in his sample at the Lima Games, which was on WADA’s (World Anti-Doping Code) list of prohibited substances.

The low traces suggested that the drug was absorbed out of competition, rather than in Peru. Phillip, according to the same source, indulged in ‘vaping’ before the competition, which they believe led to the tainted sample.

Ironically, within six weeks of Panam Sports’ decision to penalise Phillip—in keeping with Article 2.1 of the Panam Sports Anti-Doping Rules—WADA lifted its ban on marijuana outside of competition.

Cannabis is now only outlawed in competition and Phillip would not be sanctioned if the Lima episode repeated itself in the future. However, the infraction means that Panam Sports ‘would order the forfeiture and return by all of the team members of the gold medals won in this event’.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago cyclists Njisane Phillip (left) and Nicholas Paul celebrate after helping Team TTO cop gold in the Men’s Team Sprint final at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru on 1 August 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Fernando Llano/Wired868)

Wired868 did not get a response to the CAS verdict from the gifted cyclist up until the time of publication.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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