Whether the two Springbok players who tested positive for the banned stimulant methylexaneamine used it intentionally or not, the fact is that little is known about this substance.
What is methylexaneamine?
According to Rodney Swigelaar, Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) Africa Regional Office in Cape Town, methylexaneamine is a stimulant and was commonly sold as a medicine until the beginning of the 1970s and has known medicinal properties.
“To Wada’s knowledge, the substance has not been sold as a medicine since the 1970s. However, during the course of this year, the anti-doping community noticed evidence that this substance had reappeared in a number of nutritional supplements and was therefore subject to potential inadvertent use by athletes.
“While athletes are responsible for everything they use under the strict liability principle applied in the fight against doping, international experts forming Wada’s Scientific Committees took this reality into account to reclassify methylexaneamine into the “specified stimulants” category of the 2011 List,” he said.
Non-specified vs. specified substances
While methylexaneamine currently falls into the "non-specified stimulants" section of the 2010 WADA Prohibited List, it is due to be reclassified in 2011.
Generally speaking, ‘specified substances’ are substances that are more susceptible to a credible, non-doping explanation. Meaning that if the athlete can prove that he or she did not intend to enhance performance by using them to the satisfaction of the results management authority, the sanction under the World Anti-Doping Code can go from a warning to a two-year ban, Swigelaar explained.
However, the reclassification of methylexaneamine on the 2011 Prohibited List compared to the 2010 List was approved by Wada’s Executive Committee at its September meeting and the 2011 List will take effect on January 1, 2011.
What happens if an athlete is ‘busted’?
Swigelaar said that generally the adjudication of the case will be conducted under the jurisdiction of the anti-doping organisation responsible for that case.
“Wada itself does not sanction athletes, as with all cases under the World Anti-Doping Code, once a decision is made, Wada will review the reasons for the decision and will subsequently determine whether or not to use its independent right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” he added.
Source: Rodney Swigelaar, Director of Wada Africa Regional Office
(Amy Froneman, Health24, November 2010)