by: Mickey Ingles
Basketball star Kiefer Ravena recently made headlines after FIBA suspended him for 18 months after testing positive for three banned substances under the WADA List of Prohibited Substances. That sentence alone has a lot to unpack, so let’s dive right to it.
What’s WADA, anyway?
WADA stands for the World Anti-Doping Agency, an independent international organization whose main purpose is to prevent doping in sports and maintain the integrity of sports. One of the ways it does this is by linking up with international sports federations (IF) for anti-doping tests. The “link” is usually found in the internal regulations of the IF.
What’s FIBA got to do with it?
The Fédération Internationale de Basketball or FIBA is the governing international sports federation for basketball. It’s basically in charge of international basketball events, such as the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers where Kiefer took the doping test. FIBA’s internal regulations, specifically Book 4 on Anti-Doping, explicitly refer to and incorporate most of the WADA World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) provision, making the WADA Code and the Prohibited List applicable to basketball players participating in a FIBA-sanctioned event, i.e.Kiefer.
What’s the WADA Code?
The WADA Code is the bible that harmonizes all the anti-doping policies, regulations, and procedures. If you have any questions on how anti-doping tests are conducted, the WADA Code has probably got the answer to it. For example, the WADA International Standard for Testing and Investigation (which the WADA Code works in conjunction with) provides that you have to pee in a cup and provide two urines samples, called the A and B sample. According to news reports, both samples provided by Kiefer tested positive of banned substances under the WADA Prohibited List.
What’s the WADA Prohibited List?
The Prohibited List, as the name suggests, enumerates the different substances which are banned at all times (like anabolic androgenic steroids), the substances which are banned during competitions (like cannabis), and substances which are prohibited in particular sports (like propranolol in billiards and darts). Collectively, these are called Prohibited Substances. This list is updated annually, so athletes have to keep updated with the list to prevent any doping issues.
Note that banned substances do not necessarily have to be illegal drugs (such as anabolic steroids). So, Kiefer was correct to clarify that he wasn’t doing any shabu or marijuana.
Were the substances Kiefer had in his system part of the Prohibited List?
Higenamine, 1,3-Dimethylbutylamine, and 4-Methylhexan-2-amine were all found in Kiefer’s system. And if you do a quick CTRL+F in the 2018 Prohibited List, you’ll see that all three substances are on the list.
Kiefer said he didn’t know that the work-out drink he took before the game had those substances as ingredients. Does that help?
Well, the WADA Code and the FIBA Internal Regulations on Anti-Doping, specifically Art. 2.1.1., explicitly provides that it’s an athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited or banned substances enter his or her body. An athlete must be responsible for whatever enters his or her body—a fact that Kiefer has actually come to terms with during his press conference.
Does FIBA have the power to suspend Kiefer?
It sure does. FIBA Internal Regulations (Book 1, Chapter 6, Paragraph 126) state that players licensed by a national member federation or FIBA is under FIBA’s jurisdiction for disciplinary purposes. Four paragraphs down, you’ll see that FIBA can sanction anti-doping violations. And Paragraph 132 outlines the sanctions FIBA may impose on individuals—suspension, as it has imposed on Kiefer, is one such sanction.
Can Kiefer play in the PBA even if he’s been suspended by FIBA?
Assuming the PBA is a FIBA-sanctioned event, then the suspension should also affect his PBA playing time. But it’ll depend on what FIBA says.
Update (June 1, 2018): FIBA has clarified that the ban applies to all basketball-related activities, which includes the PBA. This is in accordance with 10.12.1. of its Internal Regulations on Anti-Doping that state that athletes who have been declared ineligible may not participate in any capacity in competitions authorized or organized by any professional leagues, whether recognized by FIBA or not.
Can Kiefer appeal?
He can. He may appeal the FIBA suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). (We previously talked about CAS here.) Assuming Kiefer has exhausted all his remedies with FIBA, he can appeal to CAS within 21 days, unless FIBA internal regulations state a longer period. The decision was released on May 22, 2018, which leaves Kiefer some time to mull over appealing it to CAS.
Update (June 1, 2018): FIBA Internal Regulations allow an appeal to the FIBA Appeals’ Panel within 14 days from receipt of the decision. From the decision of the FIBA Appeals’ Panel, then recourse to the CAS is available within 21 days.
What can CAS do?
CAS can review the case. If it finds for Kiefer, it may even shorten the suspension, similar to what it did for Maria Sharapova and Richard Gasquet (although the kissing defense won’t apply to the Phenom).
Will this affect Kiefer’s endorsements?
That’ll depend if his contracts with the companies or products which he endorses have morality clauses in them. In a nutshell, morality clauses require endorsers to not engage in any conduct that might be detrimental or damaging to the product or the company. If these contracts do have morality clauses (which I’m pretty sure they do), it’ll be up to the companies if they want to call on the morality clause.
Let’s wait and see how this all plays out for Kief. But this should be a learning point for athletes everywhere—check with your team doctors and someone who’s familiar with the WADA Code and WADA Prohibited List before drinking or ingesting anything. Your career and your country may well depend on it.
Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva.