'It was an honest mistake' - Robbie Powell

Athlone swimmer Robbie Powell has accepted the decision of Sport Ireland to issue him with the minimum sanction of a one-year ban for his accidental use of a listed substance in November 2019.

The elite swimmer informed Sport Ireland in April that he accepted the findings of its investigation into his unintentional breach of regulations (see article HERE).

Robbie Powell said: “I acknowledge my mistake and apologise sincerely to my supporters, my team colleagues and coaches. It is important to note that this was an honest mistake. Sport Ireland has confirmed that there was no intention to infringe the regulations which I fully support and have always been very careful to adhere to.

"I have always attended anti-doping sessions and will continue to do so. There was no performance enhancing effects whatsoever. I have been training for the past 10 years to get to this point in my career, and I am very aware of the strict regulations that are in place. I would like to mention the courtesy shown towards me by Sport Ireland during this process which has been a very difficult few months,” continued Powell (pictured above).

Robbie was unknowingly in possession of a cream called Trofodermin, which is a topical cream that contains a prohibited substance called clostebol. The branding and colour of the tube look almost identical to Denvercourt, a medically prescribed cream which Robbie uses for eczema. During a flare-up of eczema on November 26/27, 2019, he applied a ‘pea-sized’ amount of what he believed to be Denvercort to the affected area of his hands, but instead applied Trofodermin in error.

According to Sport Ireland, the WADA accredited laboratory in Rome confirmed that the concentration of clostebol - 1.3 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL) of a clostebol metabolite - found in the athlete’s sample was consistent with his explanation. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gramme.

Sport Ireland found ‘that the objective level of fault was low, and that a reasonable athlete suffering from eczema may well have done the same – it would have been preferable had he examined the tube before applying it.’

Powell said: "The past few months have been extremely rough for my family and me. I have lost a lot, but gained even more mentally. I have a different outlook on life. I learned that life isn't just about the goals I set in my sport and that there's more to me than my swimming ability. But my love for swimming, the friends I've made in the sport and my life long dreams, mean too much to me still. They are the reasons that I'll be back!

"I've missed my friends, along with the grind! Until then, and subject to the Covid-19 restrictions, I'll be focused on my training by myself. I would also like to educate other athletes about anti-doping rules where possible and make sure they don't make such a simple mistake like I did. In terms of the current health crisis worldwide, stay safe everyone.”

Sport Ireland can provide bans of four years, two years and one year for this type of substance, depending on the nature of a regulation breach. The fact that the one year ban is back-dated to the time of the incident is an indication that Robbie cooperated fully with Sport Ireland and it has been viewed as an accidental breach.

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