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Olympian Brenda Martinez won’t face penalties after positive drug test

USADA determined that Martinez ingested the banned substance "without fault or negligence"

Photo by: Instagram/bmartrun

On Tuesday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) reported that American Olympian and 2013 world championship medallist in the 800m Brenda Martinez tested positive for the banned substance hydrochlorothiazide in an out-of-competition test in September. Despite the positive test, Martinez will not face any suspension, as USADA determined that she had ingested the substance “without fault or negligence.” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said this is the sixth “no-fault case” that he and his anti-doping team have seen in 2020, noting that prohibited substances can be unknowingly ingested by athletes in many ways, such as “contaminated medication, meat or water.” Tygart says he and USADA are pushing for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to rework the system to avoid future mistaken charges like the ones Martinez has faced. 

According to the report, Martinez tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, listed in the class of “Diuretics and Masking Agents” on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List, on September 10. Martinez gave USADA records that showed she had been taking a WADA-approved oral medication at the time of her positive test. Upon further investigation and analysis, USADA found hydrochlorothiazide contamination in the medication “at a level consistent with Martinez’s positive test.” Since it has been determined that she had no way of knowing that taking the medication would result in a positive test, Martinez won’t face any penalties.

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Drug tests are administered by national anti-doping governing bodies like USADA, but they follow WADA rules and protocols. This is why Tygart is upset and urging WADA to change its rules, as he has no control over the protocols which have led to multiple cases like that of Martinez.

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“Yet another athlete has been unjustly charged with a violation and publicly recognized for ingesting a prohibited substance from a completely innocent source,” Tygart said. “USADA strongly objects to this requirement under the rules and will continue to urge WADA to reform the system to be fairer for athletes.”

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The full USADA report on Martinez’s case can be read here