Swim Ireland and Sport Ireland have announced that 20-year-old Irish swimmer Robert Powell has been banned for an anti-doping violation.
Powell has represented Ireland on the international stage and was part of the national record-breaking men’s 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Gwangju.
The university student provided a sample during out-of-competition testing in November of last year, which was split into Sample A and Sample B.
Sample A was tested by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance, Clostebol, the following month.
In January 2020, through his solicitor, Powell admitted to the anti-doping violation but maintained it was not intentional. He waived his right to have the B sample tested.
He explained that he suffers from eczema and is in possession of two creams to help the skin condition. One, Denvercort, was provided by the Irish team doctor and does not contain any prohibited substances. However, Trofodermin contains Clostebol.
During a flare-up in November 2019, Powell applied what he thought was Denvercort to his hands, but had mixed up the two creams due to their similar branding and had used Trofodermin instead. He could not explain how he came to that cream in his possession considering it is only available in Brazil and Italy.
Sport Ireland accepted that the swimmer bore “no significant fault or negligence”. Under their rules, an unintentional violation carries a penalty of a two-year ban.
However, after accepting that the athlete was under a significant amount of pressure at the time of the offence due to work, college and swimming, Sport Ireland found that the appropriate penalty was a 12-month period of ineligibility.
That ban has been backdated to the date of the sample collection meaning Powell is free to compete again on November 28, 2020.
A full rundown of their ruling can be found here.