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Olympian Anna van Brummen Shares Advice after Positive Test

A longtime fencer, Olympian, and Princeton University graduate, Anna van Brummen has been familiar with and committed to clean sport for many years. She checks medications on Global DRO, engages in ongoing anti-doping education, and submits Whereabouts on time. When she learned that she tested positive for a prohibited substance during the Pan American Championships in Paraguay, she was in shock. When she saw that the substance was cocaine, she was even more shocked. It didn’t take long for her to learn that coca tea – or tea containing cocaine – is prevalent in South America where her positive in-competition test took place. Knowing she hadn’t intentionally used cocaine, Anna chose not to accept a three-month sanction because it would require falsely admitting she used cocaine, and instead, proceeded to arbitration. Learn more about her case, what she learned, and her advice to other athletes in the video and message below.

From Anna van Brummen:

I want my story to help guide other athletes, and to prevent a situation like mine from happening to someone else. On top of what you’ll hear in the video, I was not allowed to bring my case in front of CAS due to a mistake uploading documents from my legal representation. The international sport body for fencing (FIE) was given a chance to allow me to take my case to CAS since they received the document on time via email, but they refused. At that point I felt like no one was on my side defending me, and I had no idea how to stand up for myself. By the time I found the resources I needed, it was too late. The following points outline my major takeaways from this experience:

Point 1. The people and resources I knew through competition and training did not know how to help in this situation. I advise athletes who find themselves in my position to reach out far and wide and not just rely on your known sources for help. Do not depend solely on a single resource or perspective- reach out to EVERY resource – the ombuds, USADA, the Team USA Athletes’ Commission (see contact information below) – even if you feel it might be not needed or is excessive. Create lines of communication within these groups about your situation so you can make sure you have all possible resources at your disposal.

Point 2. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the timeline, and make sure you communicate with your lawyer if you have crucial dates that require trying to push the timeline up. I believed that I was only at risk for three, maybe six months of ineligibility from a lack of clear communication. To avoid this, update everyone working on your side with major competition dates and registration cut offs at the very beginning of an anti-doping process.

Point 3. If your legal representation is filing electronically, they should back it up by filing via mail.

I truly believe if I knew what I know now in July of 2021, this case could have had a different outcome. If I had known to avoid coca tea in South America before June 2021, the whole situation might have been avoided. But hopefully more information can be made available to other athletes in the future.

Athletes in a similar position should know they can reach out to the USADA athlete rep Allison Wagner who has helped me through many steps of this process, or to me for more personal and experiential support.

I will keep working to encourage the creation of more systematic support structures so athletes don’t have to shoulder the burden of finding and gathering their own defense in isolation.

– Anna van Brummen 



Recommended Contacts

Elizabeth Ramsay, Team USA Athletes’ Commission Executive Director: elizabeth.ramsey@teamusa-ac.org

Team USA Athlete Ombuds: ombudsman@usathlete.org

Allison Wagner, USADA Director of Athlete & International Relations: awagner@USADA.org

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