When a player some fans might actually recognize is suspended for a positive doping test – and a female player – it’s even more noteworthy than it might be otherwise.
(That’s within the context that they truly don’t catch very many).
On Tuesday, the International Tennis Federation issued a provisional suspension to 23-year-old Beatriz Haddad Maia. She’s the 6-foot Brazilian lefty who notably upset former champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the first round at Wimbledon earlier this month.
Haddad Maia is currently ranked No. 99 in singles. Her career high was No. 58, in Sept. 2017.
The Brazilian provided a urine sample on June 4 at the Croatia Bol Open, a clay-court WTA 125K event held the second week of the French Open.
Tested at the Montreal laboratory, it was found to contain “SARM S-22 and SARM LGD-4033 metabolite.”
These are prohibited substances, falling into the S1 category (Anabolic agents). And according to the ITF regulations, a positive test carries with it a mandatory provisional suspension.
Haddad Maia was charged with the anti-doping violation on July 12. She was provisionally suspended on Monday. The Brazilian has the right to apply for a hearing to appeal the provisional suspension. But so far, she has not elected to exercise that right, per the ITF.
There will be a full hearing on the matter at a later date, at which time Haddad Maia will be able to state her case.
Tested after first-round loss
Whether the circumstances leading up Haddad Maia’s reported positive test have any bearing on her plans to pursue an appeal are unknown. But they might provide a clue.
The Brazilian lost in the first round of qualifying at the French Open, just prior to the Bol event. She retired due to injury, down 3-2 in the third set to Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine.
Less than two weeks later, she played the 125K event. But Haddad Maia lost in the first round to Sara Sorribes Tormo. After which she was tested.
You have to presume (although this is just a presumption), that Haddad Maia was tested in Paris. It is, after all, a Grand Slam.
What is SARM S-22?
(And please do not consider this any kind of go-to medical expertise).
SARM is the acronym for “Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators”.
They’ve been around since the 1940s, but were steroid-based. In recent decades, non-steroidal versions have been developed.
The New York Times, in a story published in April 2018, wrote that SARMSs were popular among athletes and the gym crowd, and that they “are widely marketed online as ‘legal steroids’ that provide the muscle-building benefits of anabolic steroids without the troubling side effects.”
“Since 2015, the United States Anti-Doping Agency has imposed sanctions on more than two dozen track and field stars, weight lifters, cyclists, mixed martial artists and others for testing positive for a variety of SARMs, most frequently one called ostarine (S-22),” the story stated.
Canadian athletes who’ve been suspended in recent years for testing positive for SARM S-22 have predominantly been powerlifters. Those include Stanley Guedes, Quentin Weber, Alexandra Stodalka and Mathieu Marineau.
Weightlifters, bobsledders – even swimmers
Back in 2013, when SARM22 was considering a new drug, Canadian skeleton/bobsledders Derek Plug and Chris Korol tested positive for it. They were suspended for two years.
Korol appealed with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
Steroid benefits, without the side effects
The decision characterized SARM S-22, also known as “Ostarine”, this way: “This family of drugs is known to have the same effect as anabolic steroids,” the decision read.
“It has reputed benefits for an athlete seeking to enhance performance. One use would be to build muscle mass, but it might also be used to improve stamina, power or the duration of training sessions.”
Canadian sprinter Dushane Farrier was suspended for four years in 2016 after a positive test for the same substance.
In Haddad’s own country, Olympic swimmer Henrique Martins was suspended for a year in 2018.
Martins’s defence was that the substance was contained in “an amino acid supplement from the company Fiale Laboratório de Estéreis e Injetáveis, which had been prescribed to the Athlete by his doctor Dr. Lucas Mendes Penchel, of the Clinica Penchel in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on 26 March 2018, one day prior to the Athlete’s positive test, and which was later found to be contaminated with Ostarine through laboratory testing.”
Dr. Penchel seemed to be quite a well-known sports physician – if you go by Instagram followers, of which he has more than 139,000.
If you want to buy this stuff online, without having a clue what it’s in it, you can even find it on Amazon. The other substance Haddad Maia tested positive for metabolites of, SARM LGD-4033 (commercial name: Ligandrol) is even on sale at a site called “Hardcore SARMs”. (PS: Don’t do it).
More female positives this year
The last woman suspended by the ITF for a positive test was Aurore Felsenhart. The Belgian got a two-month ban for testing positive for metabolites of … cannabis. Felsenhart had almost finished serving her two-month suspension by the time the decision was announced May 13.
In February, Marcela Zacarias of Mexico was found to have tested positive for a metabolite of trenbolone, which is in the same category (S1) as the substances Haddad Maia was suspended for.
But Zacarias appealed successfully. She was able to make a case for the large amount of meat she had consumed in the two days following a negative doping test during Fed Cup had been contaminated enough to trigger the positive test.