Fencing. Faced with the International Fencing Federation, Ysaora Thibus fights back

Fencing. Faced with the International Fencing Federation, Ysaora Thibus fights back
Fencing. Faced with the International Fencing Federation, Ysaora Thibus fights back

It is a crucial meeting for the Paris Olympics. Ysaora Thibus tries the final parade against the disciplinary tribunal of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) to prove its good faith following its positive doping test in February and hope to return to the slopes as quickly as possible

To escape a suspension depriving her of the Olympic Games, the foil fencer, with a huge chance of a medal, hopes to demonstrate transmission via her companion Race Imboden thanks to toxicological expertise.

“Contamination by bodily fluid” according to Thibus

Ostarine, the anabolic agent detected on January 14 during the World Cup stage in Paris, would have entered the body of Ysaora Thibus following “contamination by bodily fluid”, according to the team of the Olympic team vice-champion (2021) and individual world champion (2022).

This defense had already cleared Richard Gasquet in 2009, who tested positive for cocaine, but also, more recently, the Canadian Olympic canoe vice-champion Laurence Vincent-Lapointe and the American softball player Madilyn Nickles in 2020. samples of the latter had revealed ligandrol, an anabolic agent from the SARM family – like ostarine.

To try to prove contamination, Ysaora Thibus surrounded herself with Professor Jean-Claude Alvarez, director of the toxicology laboratory at Garches University Hospital. The toxicologist was already at work in the defense of tennis player Simona Halep, whose sanction had been reduced on appeal from four years to nine months of suspension.

Hair and nail analysis

A scientific article, published last month in the journal Clinica Chimica Acta and spotted by the daily The Teamdetails the method of Professor Jean-Claude Alvarez based in particular on the comparative analysis of the couple’s hair and nails.

Thus, the fencer’s locks “presented concentrations between 22 and 26 times lower, depending on the segment, than those of her boyfriend,” explains the article. Namely a “very low concentration of 2 pg/mg” for the portion “corresponding to the period of the positive control”.

Her boyfriend admits to secretly taking ostarine

Much less than the 65 pg/mg found at Race Imboden, who following the announcement of the suspension on February 8, “admitted to secretly taking MK2866 (another name for ostarine, Editor’s note) to develop his muscles who had not been stimulated for a year and his retirement,” the article reads.

To try to demonstrate a contamination mechanism, Professor Alvarez’s team also repeated the course of the day of control. Race Imboden took 1 mL of MK2866 again and “they kissed each other regularly, as they had done on January 14 during the competition, between each match”.

A concentration of 13 ng/mL was then measured in a sample of Ysaroa Thibus, the same as that estimated by his team during the positive control (13 ng/mL, “according to the chromatograms of the analysis”). , while on the morning of the experiment, nothing was detectable in his sample.

Similar but hardly comparable cases

Coincidentally, an American athlete Aldrich Bailey Jr was exonerated less than a month ago after having “tested positive for traces of ostarine coming from neoprene leggings intended for the hamstrings which were contaminated”, explained the American anti-doping agency, USADA. The athlete who lent him these clothes, Jaron Flournoy, received a three-year suspension.

The fact remains that each case is difficult to compare. Aldrich Bailey Jr’s urine samples, for example, showed minute traces: less than 0.1 ng/mL, according to a scientific article published in Clinica Chimica Actaby Laurie Gheddar and Pascal Kintz, toxicologist who participated in the defense of Richard Gasquet in 2009.

Delays not compatible with a call

But even if she were exonerated, Ysaora Thibus would remain under threat of an appeal. The FIE, the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) would have 21 days, from the communication of the decision, to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

A worrying prospect for the fencer: the selection of French foil fencers for the Olympic Games, already postponed as long as possible by the French Federation, must be announced in less than two months, on July 5. The deadlines would be very difficult to meet in the event of an appeal, including if it came from Ysaora Thibus herself after a sanction at first instance.

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