Failed doping test costs Victoria swimmer trip to Commonwealth Games

Olympic swimmer Alec Page of Victoria will miss the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games because of a one-month suspension for what is being labelled an inadvertent doping infraction.

It was revealed that Page’s urine sample collected at the Canadian swim trials for the Games, held in April at his home Saanich Commonwealth Place pool, contained trace amounts of the prohibited substance probenecid, which is a masking agent.

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Swimming Canada is supporting Page and says the 20-year-old accidentally ingested probenecid through a tainted supplement he was using.

Swimming Canada said the reason for the light sentence is that the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which administers doping control and violation sanctions in the country, found Page’s degree of fault to be low. The one-month ban ran May 25 to June 25. But it was costly for Page. Because he tested positive, for whatever reason, the violation retroactively purged his time and first-place finish in the 400-metre IM from the trials. So with no official result from the qualifying meet, Page can not be on the roster for the Canadian team for both the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Pan-Pacific championships on the Gold Coast of Australia.

“It is an unfortunate situation and came as a complete shock,” said Page, in a statement released through Swimming Canada.

“I have always followed a strict and regimented program with regards to my diet and what supplements I put into my body, following prescribed guidelines developed by national experts. I respect the anti-doping rules and understand they are put in place to create a level playing field for all athletes. I am always honoured to wear the Maple Leaf and represent my country on the international stage. I love my sport and all of the people I have met doing it. I would never do anything to jeopardize that.”

The situation is reminiscent of the controversy involving another Island athlete, triathlete Kelly Guest of Victoria, who was ejected from the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games for inadvertently ingesting the steroid nandrolone which he said must have been through the nutritional supplements he was taking. Guest, who was reinstated by the CCES in 2004, went on to a successful triathlon career and is now a hugely popular local youth coach.

Watching Glasgow from the sidelines will be tough.

“I’m very disappointed I will not be able to compete at the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships,” said Page.

“I understand there is a consequence associated with the risk of taking supplements. Even after consulting national experts and following the right guidelines, things like this can still happen. This has been a difficult time but I am glad this predicament is over now and I can move on. I love representing Canada and will continue to push forward and keep my focus on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”

Page grew up on Cortes Island and moved down to Victoria to advance his swimming career, graduating from Claremont Secondary. He improved from 23rd in the 400 IM as an 18-year-old Olympic rookie at London 2012 to 13th at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona. Page, a UVic student, received strong support from Swimming Canada.

“It’s clear Alec did not intend to cheat and that the presence of trace amounts of this substance was inadvertent,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi, in a statement. “A reduced ban was appropriate and allows Alec to continue pursuing his career as one of Canada’s most talented young swimmers. He is a young man of outstanding character.”

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