(Ottawa, ON) – The Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association (CWSA) confirms today that wheelchair rugby national team member Michael Whitehead has received a one-year sanction for an anti-doping rule violation. The athlete’s urine sample, collected during in-competition doping control on May 19th, 2013, revealed the presence of cocaine.
Upon being notified of the adverse analytical finding, Mr. Whitehead signed a Voluntary Provisional Suspension and ceased participating in the sport until the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES) completed their review process. He also entered a 30-day in-patient rehabilitation program to address the mental illness and substance abuse issues that led to the doping violation and is currently undergoing the treatment needed to maintain his mental health.
At the conclusion of the review with CCES, Mr. Whitehead acknowledged the doping violation and accepted a one-year sanction ending May 19th, 2014. The sanction length took into account the athlete’s mental illness and that it was this illness that resulted in the ingestion of a prohibited substance, rather than the intention of achieving a competitive advantage.
“While we are disappointed with the positive test result, we view this violation as a mental health issue and are committed to supporting Mr. Whitehead as he gets the help he needs,” said CWSA Executive Director Catherine Cadieux. “We thank the CCES for their prompt, fair and professional handling of the situation.”
CWSA is a signatory to the WADA code and works with the CCES to support drug-free sport through their education and testing programs.
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Please note that the above contacts are the only two individuals authorized to speak on this issue. Athletes, coaches and staff will not be granting interviews at this time.