USADA announced today that Matthew McCullough, of Houston, Texas, an athlete in the sport of weightlifting, has accepted a 20-month sanction after testing positive for a prohibited substance.
McCullough, 25, tested positive for higenamine as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample he provided on July 28, 2020. Higenamine is a Specified Substance in the class of Beta-2 Agonists and is prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy, and the International Weightlifting Federation Anti-Doping Policy, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.
Following an investigation into the circumstances of McCullough’s case, USADA concluded that his positive test was caused by his use of two dietary supplements that listed higenamine on the label. The products are on the High Risk List maintained on USADA’s online dietary supplement safety education and awareness resource – Supplement 411 (www.Supplement411.org). Athletes and other sport stakeholders are reminded that dietary supplements sold in the U.S. do not receive any pre-market safety or efficacy reviews by government authorities, and thus, an increased level of due diligence is necessary to challenge the reasons for use and understand the risks of a positive anti-doping test and/or an adverse health event.
USADA determined that a reduced sanction was appropriate due to McCullough’s forthright declaration of the supplements on his doping control form and cooperation throughout the results management process. McCullough’s 20-month period of ineligibility began on July 28, 2020, the date his positive sample was collected. In addition, McCullough has been disqualified from competitive results obtained on and subsequent to July 28, 2020, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.
In an effort to aid athletes, as well as support team members such as parents and coaches, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on its website on the testing process and prohibited substances, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements, as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. If athletes choose to use supplements despite the known risks, USADA has always recommended that athletes use only dietary supplements that have been certified by a third-party program that tests for substances prohibited in sport. USADA currently recognizes NSF Certified for Sport® as the program best suited for athletes to reduce the risk from supplements.
In addition, USADA manages a drug reference hotline, Global Drug Reference Online (www.GlobalDRO.com), conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as an easy-reference wallet card with examples of prohibited and permitted substances, a supplement guide, a nutrition guide, an athlete handbook, and periodic alerts and advisories.
Along with education and testing, robust anti-doping programs enable investigations stemming from tips and whistleblowers. USADA makes available a number of ways to report the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in sport in an effort to protect clean athletes and promote clean competition. Any tip can be reported using the USADA Play Clean Tip Center, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 1-877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253) or by mail.
USADA is responsible for the testing and results management process for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.
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