An in-competition test at the 2016 Masters Track Nationals returned a positive result for Gea. A hearing was held that winter and the AAA panel judged that "Ms. Johnson does not appear to have sought or gained a competitive advantage by taking Nuvigil", which is allowed for out-of-competition use. Yet USADA used a technicality (that they were able to find a minute amount in her system in an in-competition test) while acknowledging that she didn't attempt to cheat and had used the drug far prior than the 12 hour definition of in-competition use. She was sanctioned for 21 months, beginning August 2016 and her National championship title removed.

USADA Sanction published
USADA announces in-competition positive for Modafinil
("used a prescription medication containing modafinil out-of-competition for reasons unrelated to sport performance")

USADA Sanction negative slant
USADA clarification

Press release response to USADA Sanction
USADA ruling admits no cheating

August 2016 Master National Track Championships
500m TT win disqualified due to unfair sanction

In review, Gea followed all of the comprehensive instructions provided by USADA:
USADA requires athletes to verify if substances are on the banned list.
  Check: Nuvigil is banned for in-competition, but not for out-of-competition.
USADA has the athlete research clearance times of any out-of-competition substances.
  Check: No studies available for Nuvigil, the closest related substance, modafinil, shows 48 to 72 hours for complete clearance.
GlobalDRO states that "In-Competition usually means twelve hours before the start of a competition through the end of the competition".
  Check: Stopped taking Nuvigil 120 hours prior to competition.
USADA TUE for out-of-competition permitted substances.
  Check, not required, thus no need to request a TUE.
USADA doping control form
  Check, AAA states "she has no obligation to fill out that form at all, let alone to list medications taken out of competition days earlier".
AAA hearing: prove all of the above and facts accepted by AAA, confirmed the use was unrelated to sport performance and not intentional.
  Still guilty.

Clearly the aim to keep sport clean has strayed to creating rules that too easily allows innocent athletes to become victims, due to a lack of humanity in the process. The focus has changed from keeping athletes from cheating, to prioritizing the demonization of athletes for tripping over ridiculous hard line rules that have been arbitrarily made too stringent. If in-competition is defined as 12 hours prior to an event and everyone agrees that the drug was taken more than 72 hours prior, then that should override the dictate that some minute amount was found in an in-competition test; but it currently does not. If you look at the 5 convictions for 2016 on USA Cycling's Race Clean page, you'll see only ONE of those was an uncontested cheater. Obviously the focus has changed to convict innocent athletes that accidentally violate an arbitrary rule than to find those that intentionally attempt to improve their performance with outside pharmaceuticals.

Comparison of some recent Sanctions
Athlete/Age Sanction Sport Comment
Gea Johnson
21 months
Cycling AAA accepted that an out-of-competition substance (Nuvigil) was used well outside the defined 12 hour in-competition period. Reduced from four years to two because the in-competition positive was proven to not be in-competition and reduced to 21 months due to no information available at all on Nuvigil.
Dawn Harper-Nelson
3 months
Track & Field Out-of-Competition positive for diuretic masking agent prohibited at ALL times (hydrochlorothiazide and related metabolites) that were part of her prescribed medication and inadequately researched. Because of limited information available on search results, it was reduced to three months.
David Bayer
30 months
Weightlifting Bayer immediately admitted to ordering and using two prohibited substances (clomiphene and GW1516 sulfone) upon the recommendation and guidance of his coach. Sanction reduced from four years due to his cooperation with USADA. GW1516 is an experimental drug sold illegally on the black market and not approved by the FDA.
Kayla Bushey
24 months
Track & Field Admitted to ordering and using products with prohibited substances (ostarine and arimistane). Since her use was based on the recommendation of a trusted source, she received a sanction reduction from four to two years.
Benjamin Barnes
48 months
Weightlifting In-competition positive for two prohibited substances (GW1516 sulfoxide and GW1516 sulfone) GW1516 is an experimental drug sold illegally on the black market and not approved by the FDA.
J.C. Cruse
16 months
Bobsled In-competition positive for stimulant DMBA, caused by his use of a high risk dietary supplement without doing adequate research. Period reduced due to never having been in the Registered Testing Pool or having received formal anti-doping education.
Scott McPherson
48 months
Track & Field In-competition positive for anabolic steroid, caused by his use of a cream to help with his arthritis. He was the only competitor in his field at the competition and posted times slower than older age groups.

For the record: Gea has been tested at least 41 times since 10/21/2001, most of those out-of-competition (Lance Armstrong was tested less than 60 times by USADA). Decades ago Gea had a couple of pre-USADA drug accusations: she won an injunction on one case in Supreme Court (wrongfully accused in December 1994 for anabolic steroids on a test sample that was DNA proven not to be hers after chain of custody violations) which was eventually reduced from four to two years. The other was for elevated Epitestosterone hormone levels (which is not performance enhancing and is naturally occurring) in an April 1997 test that was sanctioned incredibly in 2002 retroactively, while they violated their own rules regarding timelines, never gave Gea a hearing, Gea denied any wrongdoing, and the USAW did not ask her to admit to doping. A plea deal was accepted after they backed her into a corner a few weeks before the Olympics, which allowed her to compete in the Olympics rather than spend that period in court to prove her innocence. Her attorney is working with USOC now to clarify the vague rule so that this will not even be a violation in the future.


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