[Press Release] – The Disciplinary Chamber of Swiss Olympic (DK) has decided that the atypical Zeranol test result may not be considered a positive doping sample. This means that the provisional ban imposed by Swiss Sports Integrity (SSI) on August 18 will be lifted after about 120 days. For Flückiger, this is a very big and important success in the fight to prove his innocence.
“I have never doped. The decision of the disciplinary chamber is an extremely big relief for me. It was the worst five months of my life. After months of enormously stressful waiting, I am now optimistic about the future again. Athletically, I’m more motivated than ever and I’m working on my comeback every day,” says Flückiger, highly pleased.
Flashback: On September 16, 2022, Mathias Flückiger and his team had submitted a detailed dossier with explanations and exoneration indications to DK. In doing so, Flückiger requested the immediate lifting of the provisional ban.
The most important exculpatory circumstantial evidence:
– DK was realistically shown with the associated evidence how food contamination could have occurred.
– Flückiger’s steroid profile is normal, absolutely inconspicuous.
– Flückiger independently had a hair sample taken on August 31, 2022, which was analyzed by Prof. Pascal Kintz of the University of Strasbourg on September 12, 2022. Kintz is the world’s leading expert in this field and has made a name for himself in particular in hair analyses in criminal proceedings. The hair analysis was negative. No traces of zeranol or its metabolites were found in Flückiger’s hair. This means that Mathias Flückiger had neither ingested small amounts of Zeranol over a longer period of time, nor a larger amount on a specific day.
– Shortly before the atypical test result at the Swiss Championships in Leysin, two negative samples were taken from Flückiger.
* Monday, May 30, 2022, training control by SSI, 6 days before XCO-SM Leysin (Sui)
* Friday, June 10, 2022, competition control by UCI/ITA, 5 days after SM, after XCC World Cup victory in Leogang (Ö).
– There are several scientific evidences and findings that a doping scenario can be excluded in the case of Mathias Flückiger: The available scientific evidence on Zeranol shows that it is highly unlikely to have an anabolic effect in humans. Zeranol is therefore not used as an anabolic steroid either in body-building circles or by athletes (WADA statistics). Zeranol is also not used in microdoses because of its non-effectiveness (unlike testosterone and testosterone-like anabolic androgenic steroids). The chemical structures of testosterone and zeranol are fundamentally different, as is their mechanism of action.
It is clear: SSI should never have issued such a provisional ban if it had followed the “Stakeholder Notice regarding potential meat contamination cases” of the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA. This WADA guidance specifies what must be done in such a case before the doping sample may be considered an “abnormal analytical result” (“positive sample”). The SSI did not follow most of the steps. The fact is: the SSI should never have evaluated Flückiger’s sample as positive in the first place, but only as atypical. However, a positive sample is a prerequisite for the imposition of a provisional ban, or the implementation of the B sample.
Precisely for this reason and in this regard, the DK had made a first important decision in Flückiger’s favor on September 28, 2022. The DK had temporarily stopped SSI super provisionally (without a hearing of SSI). This means that any deadlines of a normal doping procedure were suspended until further notice. Thus, DK did not allow SSI to continue the “normal” procedure in a doping case with the opening of the B sample.
The lifting of the provisional ban with immediate effect from December 17, 2022 is enormously important for Flückiger in several respects: “For more than five months I have not competed in any competition. During this time, I have dropped from position 3 to 24 in the world rankings and my starting position has deteriorated massively as a result. I also lack competition practice and missed the entire second half of the season, with the highlights of the European Championships and the World Championships. I’m now going about my 2023 season planning and want to race again soon.”
Now the case goes back to SSI. In compliance with the Stakeholder Notice, the National Anti-Doping Agency can, at most, re-evaluate the A sample from June 5, 2022, as an abnormal or atypical analysis result. SSI cannot legally challenge the decision of DK.