Two lacrosse players who participated in September's Mann Cup between the Peterborough Lakers and the Langley Thunder have tested positive for cannabis.
In a decision released last month by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the two unnamed athletes were found guilty of testing positive for the presence of cannabis in their urine samples after Game 2 and 4 of the lacrosse championships held in Peterborough on Sept. 9 and 12 respectively.
Cannabis is classified as a "specified substance" on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list and an athlete facing a first violation involving a "specified substance" can seek a sanction reduction from two years of ineligibility down to a reprimand.
According to the centre's chief operating officer, Doug MacQuarrie, the sanction against the two players was reduced to a reprimand and no suspension.
"In response to the CCES' notification of the adverse analytical finding, both athletes waived their right to a hearing, acknowledged their anti-doping rule violation and accepted the sanction proposed by the CCES," said MacQuarrie.
Because neither player faces a suspension from competition, the centre was able to follow its confidentiality and transparency rules, which state: "In cases where there is no period of ineligibility imposed or accepted, and where the CCES has not previously disclosed the identity of the athlete or other person, the CCES will not name the athlete or other person in the CCES public report of the disposition of the anti-doping matter."
MacQuarrie said the two athletes were able to have their sanctions reduced to a reprimand because they were able to demonstrate three key things: how the illegal substance got into their system; the substance wasn't used for performance enhancement; and they had independent third-party corroboration.
"Once they've done all three, the fourth thing is our evaluation of the degree of fault," said MacQuarrie. "That's where we look at the circumstances around the positive test and then determine if the individual was cavalier or irresponsible. ... We also look at whether the athlete did what was reasonable to present it (the positive test) from happening and that's when we'll determine if the sanction is to be reduced."
MacQuarrie said even though both athletes are remaining anonymous because of the lack of a suspension, the centre still considers them to have committed an anti-doping violation and if either commits a second infraction, the sanction then is an automatic lifetime ban.
MacQuarrie could not confirm whether the centre is conducting further investigations into drug testing conducted at the Mann Cup.
"We can only announce and report findings after a review is completed and findings are determined," MacQuarrie told The Record on Tuesday afternoon. "At this point, these are all the results."
At the Mann Cup, both head coaches, Jamie Batley of Peterborough and Rod Jensen of Langley, were suspended from Game 5.
According to a Canadian Lacrosse Association press release, "the suspensions are in relation to conduct off the floor of play."
Further on in the press release, the association noted that the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES) had conducted drug testing at the Mann Cup, but the suspensions "are not the outcome of player testing results."
Western Lacrosse Association commissioner Casey Cook told The Record on Tuesday afternoon that his organization has not been notified of any violations by any of its players. In fact, Cook said he would be surprised if either of the two reprimanded players came from Langley's squad.
Cook did say he was disappointed with how the centre handled the entire drug testing process.
"It was very, very poorly handled," said Cook. "Everything from protocols to getting information from the CCES and how long it's taken, it has been poorly handled."
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