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Pro Bono Victory Allows Welsh Athlete to Return to Training for Rio 2016 Olympic Games

29 January 2015

Hogan Lovells London Litigation team has successfully represented a Welsh athlete who was disqualified from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, having tested positive for banned substances.

Litigation partner Rod Baker and associate Theresa Hudson represented Gareth Warburton, a middle distance runner specialising in the 800m who competed for Team GB at London 2012. The athlete had taken a supplement energy drink which, during the production of the batch, had been accidentally contaminated with the banned substance.

As a result of Rod and Theresa's representation, Gareth's two year ban from competing was reduced to only six-months. Notwithstanding that UK Anti-Doping, the national organisation responsible for ensuring clean sport in the UK, and the National Anti-Doping Panel tribunal found that Gareth was not a cheat and had not knowingly taken any banned substance, the short, six-month ban was deemed appropriate on the basis that he should have disclosed that he was taking the supplements during the testing procedure and should have made additional enquiries to ensure the safety of the supplements before taking them.

Gareth's ban has already been served, meaning he is free to begin competing immediately and continue his training for the Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The athlete's case was consolidated with Rhys Williams, another disqualified Welsh athlete, who is the current European champion in the 400m hurdles and also competed for Team GB. The Tribunal made its ruling in a single decision addressed to both athletes.

Hogan Lovells lawyer Rod Baker, who worked on the case, said:
"This case shows just how far an athlete has to go to ensure that prohibited substances do not get into his/her system and the checks that need to be undertaken, even if (as in this case) such checks might not reveal the fact that a supplement is contaminated."

 
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