Asthmatic Scotland lock Scott MacLeod has been cleared by an independent judicial committee to continue to play the game after he was found to have inadvertently taken a prohibited asthma medication without the required permission. MacLeod, the 16-times-capped Llanelli Scarlets forward, was tested by UK Sport, the national anti-doping organisation in the UK, as part of Scottish Rugby's no-notice doping control tests, at a Scotland training session last month.Asthmatic Scotland lock Scott MacLeod has been cleared by an independent judicial committee to continue to play the game after he was found to have inadvertently taken a prohibited asthma medication without the required permission.
MacLeod, the 16-times-capped Llanelli Scarlets forward, was tested by UK Sport, the national anti-doping organisation in the UK, as part of Scottish Rugby's no-notice doping control tests, at a Scotland training session last month.
Analysis of his urine sample showed the presence of Terbutaline, a drug, taken through an inhaler, to treat asthma.
Terbutaline is on the World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited list unless, when administered by inhalation, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) has been obtained in advance.
MacLeod did not have a current valid TUE for this drug. He does have a current TUE for Salbutamol, another asthma medication. On that TUE form, which was issued by the Border Reivers doctor in April 2006, it was noted that "he was previously on Terbutaline but that it was not available at the time." Records confirm that MacLeod's previous TUE was for Terbutaline. MacLeod left Border Reivers at the end of the 2005-06 season and his current TUE is valid until April 2008.
Scottish Rugby was contacted by UK Sport on the 14th of February with the result of the sample and MacLeod opted to attend an independent judicial hearing last Monday.
At that hearing he explained that he was not clear on the distinction between the different types of asthma inhaler. His understanding was that he had a valid TUE for his asthma inhaler and he did not appreciate that separate TUEs would be needed for the two different drugs. At some stage after his TUE was granted for Salbutamol, he reverted to using Terbutaline.
Terbutaline is listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a Specified Substance being 'particularly susceptible to unintentional anti-doping rule violations because of general availability in medicinal products or less likely to be successfully abused as a doping agent'. When it is found that a Specified Substance has not been taken to enhance sports performance, the mandatory sanction ranges from a minimum of a warning to a maximum of a 1-year suspension.
The independent judicial committee was chaired by Rod McKenzie of Harper Macleod LLP and also comprised Professor Donald Macleod and Dr Brian Walker.
Their decision was: _x001C_The Judicial Committee found that the player had committed an unintentional anti-doping violation viz the presence in a sample of urine taken during out-of-competition testing of a Beta2-Agonist, Terbutaline, without the required Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
_x001C_The Committee accepted that the absence of the required TUE was entirely inadvertent since the player had a valid subsisting TUE for Salbutamol and that as a chronic sufferer of severe asthma the use of Terbutaline in substitution for Salbutamol was not intended to enhance performance.
_x001C_The TUE for Salbutamol given by the player in April 2006 could have included for Terbutaline and the omission of that drug at that time was occasioned only by a temporary absence of supply by manufacturers. In the circumstances the player was administered the minimum sanction of a warning and a reprimand._x001D_
MacLeod had seven days on receipt of the committee's decision to determine whether he would appeal. Today he has confirmed he accepts the decision. _x001C_I was pretty unaware of the different types of asthma medication but this experience has been a bit of a wake-up call. I'm not a cheat and I'm pleased that the panel accepted that I'd used Terbutaline inadvertently and that there had been no intention to enhance sports performance. Hopefully other players will be a bit more savvy given what's happened to me. I want to put this behind me now and concentrate on the job in hand with the national team._x001D_
Gregor Nicholson, Scottish Rugby's International Administration Manager, said: _x001C_In making today's announcement, we were under no regulatory requirement to name Scott. However, given that he feels it's been a salutary lesson, he has agreed to his name being released to help to underline the message to all other players.
_x001C_Scott's case also raises the fact that it is a moot point whether these asthma medications should be on the Prohibited List at all. UK Sport have already recommended to WADA that beta2-agonists be removed from the Prohibited List as studies over the last 10 years have consistently failed to demonstrate the performance enhancing effects of these medications._x001D_
_x001C_Although Scott received only a warning and reprimand for this his first violation, if he has a second violation at any time during the rest of his playing career, he will face a mandatory 2-year suspension. This seems entirely disproportionate for a life-long asthmatic especially when there are such doubts about whether these substances can be abused to enhance performance._x001D_
_x001C_However these are the rules at the moment and all players have to be especially diligent in ensuring that they have a valid TUE for their specific asthma medication._x001D_
To read the full Judicial Committee decision, CLICK HERE