Turinabol is not the only PED that shows 'pulsing' on anti-doping tests

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Earlier this week MMAFighting.com’s Marc Raimondi wrote an informative piece discussing the UFC’s Muslim Salikhov. Salikhov tested positive on several occasions for M3, a long term metabolite of the prohibited substance Turinabol, but escaped punishment.

The M3 metabolite’s claim to fame in MMA is its association with Jon Jones. Jones tested positive for the metabolite and faced sanctions. The metabolite was then subsequently detected in further testing but Jones was cleared of further wrongdoing due to regulators not knowing the outside window of how long this metabolite can be detected.  Subsequent tests were attributed to long term ‘pulsing’ of the metabolite tied back to the original ingestion.

Salikhov, on the other hand, was never punished for ingesting a prohibited substance at all. The reason being, according to Raimondi’s reporting, is that USADA simply cannot be confident relying on the M3 metabolite alone as to when turinabol may have been ingested. Without knowing the window the substance could have been ingested before an athlete was subject to USADA’s jurisdiction thus the anti-doping watchdog lacked confidence in establishing a policy violation. Raimondi reported as follows:

With what USADA knows now about how long the M3 metabolite might “pulse” in an athlete’s system from cases involving Jones and others, the agency has made the decision to not suspend Salikhov. USADA cannot determine when Salikhov ingested oral Turinabol or if it happened even up to a year before he was signed to the UFC and entered the USADA drug-testing program, Novitzky said. It is believed that Salikhov has no performance-enhancing benefits from the very small amount of the metabolite left over.

Following this, I reached out to the UFC’s Jeff Novitzky to find out if any other prohibited substances are running into a similar problem.  Interestingly the answer appears to be yes. Novitzky notes that Clomiphene detection is also plagued with an unknown time frame. Novitzky explained it as follows:

The lesson for anyone accused of a doping violation is you should learn exactly what was detected and what is known about its widow of detectability.  If the timeframe exceeds the time you were subject to anti-doping provisions that is an avenue worth exploring.

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Author Erik Magraken is a British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, founder of the Combat Law Sports Blog, and profoundly appreciated UGer.