From the Associated Press:
Gymnast Morgan Hamm, who was selected for his third U.S. Olympic team last month, received a warning Thursday for getting a prescribed anti-inflammatory shot without the proper clearance from anti-doping authorities.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Hamm tested positive May 24 at the U.S. gymnastics championships for a glucocorticosteroid, a cortisone-like drug that is only allowed during competitions with an exemption. Hamm, the brother of defending Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm, said he received the shot May 2 for pain and inflammation in his left ankle, which he initially injured last August.
“It was an innocent mistake,” Morgan Hamm said. “You always need to get the forms, that’s the most important thing, and that’s my failure.”
Hamm accepted the warning for his first doping violation, and his results from the May 24 competition at the nationals were thrown out. Results from that day, as well as the first day of the nationals and two days of Olympic trials, were used to help determine the U.S. team for Beijing.
Hamm is not in danger of being dropped from the U.S. team.
“We are investigating the statement from USADA, and we will work with USADA, the USOC and Morgan to determine the next best steps,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics.
Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said, “So long as the proper documentation is provided to USADA, this will not be a problem going forward.”
The anti-inflammatory Hamm took is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances, but athletes can take it before a competition if there is a medical need for it and if they receive an exemption. Hamm said he was given the drug by his doctor, Mark Triffon, after taping, ultrasound and other therapies didn’t reduce the pain and swelling in his ankle, but failed to ask for the therapeutic use exemption.
Whoops. In some sense it seems unfair to blame this on Hamm, unless his doctor specifically told him to do he exemption paperwork and he didn’t. His quote indicates that he knew he needed to file paperwork, however.
(Update: In a response posted on Making the Olympics, Morgan said his doctor told him no paperwork was needed. “This wasn’t performance enhancing at all,” he said. Thanks, Kew.)
Makes one wonder how much the athletes should be responsible for when it comes to drugs or shots with long names perscribed by doctors.
When Marion Jones claimed that her coach said the steroid she was given was some sort of nutritional supplement, Jones probably should have known better (and apparently did.)
When Morgan Hamm gets an injection for an ankle problem and doesn’t file the proper paperwork with anti-doping agencies, should he be disciplined? And if he’s not thrown off the Olympic team, how can he really be punished?
There are those who think that Hamm’s performances in Houston and Philadelphia weren’t convincing enough to merit the sixth and last Olympic berth, and that he’s riding brother Paul’s coattails. Some, including the Los Angeles Times, are already calling for his head.
He got only a warning, but he should be thrown off the team.
USA Gymnastics doesn’t have the guts to do that because it would alienate Hamm’s twin brother, Paul, and without a committed Paul Hamm the U.S. men’s team won’t go far in Beijing.
Sorry, but it’s tough to believe the excuse that Morgan Hamm didn’t know or forgot that he had to file paperwork with USA Gymnastics before getting the steroid injection.