Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1261, (3 - 9 September 2015)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1261, (3 - 9 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Olympic dreams become nightmare

Egypt’s two-time Olympic medalist wrestler Karam Gaber has been suspended for two years for anti-doping violations. Ghada Abdel-Kader finds out what happened

Gaber
Gaber
Al-Ahram Weekly

Egyptian fans and wrestling lovers were taken by surprise with the news that Egypt’s former Olympic gold medal Greco-Roman wrestler Karam Gaber had been suspended for two years by United World Wrestling (UWW) for violating anti-doping rules.
 
UWW sent a notification of its decision to the Egyptian Wrestling Federation (EWF) on 28 August. The UWW is the international governing body of amateur wrestling. One of its duties includes overseeing wrestling at the Olympics.

UWW also decided to fine Gaber 20,000 Swiss francs (LE162,750) after he was charged with failing to either file his whereabouts required for a drug test or missed the doping test. According to Article 12.3 on anti-doping rules, the fine is imposed on national federations for any anti-doping violation committed by an athlete included in the registered testing pool.

Gaber won the gold medal in the men’s Greco-Roman 96kg at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and silver at the 2012 London Olympics. He also won the silver medal at the 2003 World Championships.

But Gaber is now in a totally different arena after being sanctioned for two years of ineligibility starting from 27 August this year until 26 August 2017. The suspension means Gabr will not be allowed to participate in any competitions organised, affiliated to or licensed by UWW.  He will also be unable to take part in any professional league or any international or national-level event.
 
Perhaps worst of all, Gaber will not participate in the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, from 7 to 15 September. The World Championships is a qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

A member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and chairman of the Doping Committee in the Egyptian Olympic Committee Dr Magdi Al-Sabbagh explained what happened. “The athletes in the National Registered Testing Pool (NRTP) use a computer system called ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System),” Al-Sabbagh said. “It is a web-based database management system or web application with a specific password for every athlete. The athlete enters all the required details about his daily activities and whereabouts so that he can easily be located for testing at anytime and anywhere, without any advance notice.

 “An athlete can update his whereabouts information all the time through emailing or text messaging to ADAMS. If an athlete fails to properly file his whereabouts information or to be available for testing, it can result in an athlete receiving what is known as a whereabouts failure,” Al-Sabbagh said.

“In Gaber’s case, his suspension is due to neglecting or failing to provide accurate information to the WADA with the changes in his whereabouts. So, he has three missed doping tests at a specified time on three occasions. According to the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, any combination of three whereabouts failures, which include filing failures or missed tests within a rolling 12-month period, may result in an anti-doping rule violation,” explained Al-Sabbagh.

According to Article 13.2.1 of the UWW Anti-doping rules, the decision may be appealed in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days after the decision.

In an exclusive interview, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi told Al-Ahram Weekly, “On 29 August, the EWF board of directors held an emergency meeting in which they decided Gaber will end his training camp in the US and resume training in Egypt. The EWF, in cooperation with the Egyptian Anti-Doping Organisation, Egyptian Nado, will present a petition to the UWW to reduce the suspension period. The EWF will study the possibility of Gaber qualifying for the Olympics Games.

 “He still has several options: either he qualifies by way of the African and Oceania qualification tournament in Algeria from 1-3 April 2016, or the first OG World qualifying tournament in Mongolia from 22-24 April 2016, or the second OG World qualifying tournament in Turkey from 6-8 May 2016.”
 
EWF’s President Hassan Al-Haddad will discuss the issue with the UWW’s President Nenad Lalovic during a visit to the US. Al-Haddad heads the Egyptian wrestling delegation that will participate in the 2015 World Wrestling Championship.

General manager of public relations and media at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Mohamed Kassab confirmed that “Gaber is not banned for doping or detected prohibited substances. It could be an administrative error from the athlete himself after he did not give WADA accurate information about his exact location”.
 
 Board member of the Egyptian Wrestling Federation (EWF) Ibrahim Adel said “there is still hope Gaber will not miss Rio 2016 if UWW accepts the petition and reduces the suspension to less than six months.”
 
Adel added: “I spoke to Gaber on the phone to make sure he’s OK. He is much better now. I explained to him the steps we will take and assured him that we are all standing with him. Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz is paying special attention to the issue and following up all the updates with EWF and EOC.”

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