An Australian athletics coach who tested positive to drugs is free to return to coaching because of a legal loophole.
Greg Smith, who until recently coached Australia’s world championships 400-metre runner and rising star Bendere Oboya, tested positive to drugs in May 2018. He had also coached Hollywood actor and director Angelina Jolie for the film Unbroken in 2015.
The Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA) will not appeal the case because of the cost involved and legal advice on the likelihood of success.
ASADA confirmed Smith returned positive A and B samples to prohibited substance LGD-4033 and its metabolite Di-hydroxy LGD-4033.
An article on the ASADA website from 2018 said LGD-4033 was originally developed for the treatment of muscle-wasting conditions such as osteoporosis, muscular dystrophy and cancer. It induces muscle and bone growth like a steroid but without the typical side effects of steroids.
Athletics Australia suspended Smith's coaching accreditation, with news of the ban breaking on the eve of the 2019 national championships in which Oboya was competing, after the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel (ADRVP) finding.
Smith appealed the ADRVP decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), arguing that he was not an athlete at the time he tested positive.
Everything that was said about me was all lies.
“Mr Smith was recorded as being registered as an athlete with Athletics NSW for the 2017-18 season and competed in an event in March 2018. However, the AAT determined Mr Smith was not an ‘athlete who competes in sport’ when he was tested on 16 May 2018,” an ASADA spokesman said.
“ASADA’s position as to the application of “athlete” under the ASADA Act and ASADA Regulations differs to the application used by the AAT. As a result, the decision of the ADRVP was set aside.
“Based on independent legal advice and anticipated costs, ASADA will not be appealing the AAT’s decision. This decision was made under an Australian administrative process.
“Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and World Athletics both have appeal rights from decisions regarding anti-doping rule violations, which is a separate process to the Australian administrative process.”
Smith declared his innocence in social media posts after the AAT decision.
“What was done to me was unlawful and those involved were only out for, what I believe, to try and destroy my reputation for being successful and standing up for things I felt was wrongly done to one of my athletes at the Commonwealth Games in 2018,” Smith wrote.
“The past 18 months I’ve lost a few athletes and had my reputation tarnished for stuff put out in the media and others spreading rumours without knowledge of the situation.
“Everything that was said about me was all lies.”
Smith said he had received advice from Athletics Australia that his coaching suspension had been lifted but he had yet to decide whether to return to coaching with them.
“Justice has been served,” he wrote.
Last week Oboya won the 400m at the Melbourne Track Classic and said afterwards she was a rejuvenated athlete after leaving Smith and moving to John Quinn as coach.
“My mental health came first. I wasn't happy so I decided that I had to put that first. I got to a point where I didn't really care about the Olympics so I knew I needed to move myself out of that scenario,” Oboya said.
"Me and my coach really weren't on good terms and I didn't want that to interrupt my dreams.
"Everyone's dream is to go to the Olympics."
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