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Thu, April 27, 2023

International Tennis Integrity Agency v Andrej Martin

International Tennis Integrity Agency v Andrej Martin

A decision in the case of International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) against Andrej Martin has been issued by the Independent Panel.

On 7 June 2022, Mr Martin, a Slovak professional tennis player, provided an In-Competition urine sample that resulted in an Adverse Analytical Finding. Mr Martin was made subject to a Provisional Suspension on 22 July 2022. Then on 26 September 2022, the ITIA formally issued Mr Martin with a Notice of Charge for committing Anti-Doping Rule Violations for the Presence and Use of SARM S-22, a Prohibited non-Specified Substance. 

The Independent Tribunal, comprised of Mr Charles Hollander KC (Chair), Ms Helle Qvortrup Bachmann, and Professor Dorian Haskard, was appointed to hear this matter. 

Mr Martin is not exclusively a professional tennis player, but also plays floorball and runs triathlons. Upon being faced with an Adverse Analytical Finding for the Presence and Use of SARM S-22, Mr Martin investigated the source and discovered that in the days leading up to providing the In-Competition urine same, he had participated in a floorball tournament during which, one of his teammates had been using SARM S-22 (also known as Ostarine). The teammate had been adding drops of the prohibited substance to water in his own floorball team water bottle, unbeknownst to Mr Martin before his investigation. Mr Martin suggested that he must have inadvertently drunk from his teammate’s water bottle and thereby inadvertently ingested SARM S-22. 

The Tribunal was satisfied that based on the evidence provided by Mr Martin, his teammates, and the ITIA’s medical expert that it was possible that even in exercising the utmost caution, Mr Martin could have unintentionally consumed the prohibited substance and that his actions were neither intentional nor reckless. Although Mr Martin had marked his water bottle with his initials, he placed his water bottle, which was otherwise indiscernible from the bottles belonging to his other teammates, beneath the bench. Both Mr Martin and his teammate confirmed that they often sat next to one another during games, primarily due to the positions they played – defence and goal, respectively; resulting in their bottles being placed close to one another beneath the bench. Mr Martin’s teammate further explained that although SARM S-22 has an unpleasant taste, it is possible that the taste would have faded after the mixture had been diluted with water, which was being used to refill the entire teams’ bottles numerous times throughout the games. The medical expert’s explanation, that the small quantity of the prohibited substance found in Mr Martin’s sample is more consistent with accidental ingestion, also went a long way to supporting Mr Martin’s explanation. The Tribunal therefore found that Mr Martin had discharged his burden of proof to show the cause of the Adverse Analytical Finding. There was no question of Mr Martin deliberately drinking from another player’s water bottle. Accidental drinking in this way does not, in the view of the Tribunal, constitute either knowledge of a significant risk or manifest disregard of that risk. The Tribunal therefore reached the conclusion that Mr Martin acted with No Significant Fault or Negligence.

Despite the reduction in sanction that comes with a finding of No Significant Fault or Negligence, Mr Martin admitted that while provisionally suspended, he participated in ten floorball matches and a triathlon competition. Although it was accepted by the Tribunal that Mr Martin did not intentionally breach the Provisional Suspension, as he assumed it only applied to tennis, there is no discretion that the Tribunal can apply in these circumstances. The time spent during the Provisional Suspension therefore does not count towards the period of Ineligibility that Mr Martin is unavoidably subject to.

The Tribunal thereby determined that the Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) had been established pursuant to TADP Articles 2.1 and 2.2. As the breach was not found to be intentional, and Mr Martin was found to have acted with No Significant Fault or Negligence, a period of Ineligibility of one year and two months was imposed. The period of Ineligibility commenced on the date of the decision, 5 April 2023, and will not be credited for the period he was provisionally suspended due to the breach for competing in floorball and triathlon competitions. Mr Martin’s results (including, all associated titles, ranking points, and prize money) earned on and since 7 June 2022 shall also be disqualified.

Sport Resolutions is the independent secretariat to the International Tennis Integrity Agency’s Independent Panel.

A copy of the full decision can be accessed via the related links tab on the right-hand side.

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