In elite determine skating, make-up may be as essential a instrument as a boot and blade.
It can also sideline an Olympic contender.
Jessica Calalang, a U.S. pairs skater and potential member of the workforce for subsequent February’s Winter Games in Beijing, lately had a suspension from the game overturned. Calalang had examined constructive for a banned substance in January on the nationwide championships, and it took eight months for her identify to be cleared.
Those eight months have been fraught with uncertainty, marked by in depth searches for what may have triggered her to check constructive for 4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (4-CPA), a recognized metabolite of meclofenoxate, a USADA-prohibited stimulant.
“We were kind of retracing our steps and trying to figure what could it possibly be,” Calalang says. “We’ve been elite athletes for quite a while and are very aware of what we put in our bodies. We knew we didn’t do anything purposely to put that in jeopardy.”
She obtained an electronic mail on Feb. 12 concerning the violation, and entries for the world championships have been due on March 1.
“I only had two weeks or so to figure out where this came from, and for those two weeks I was scrambling, trying to rack my brain where it could come from,” she remembers. “We were in a bubble for nationals, which did help narrow it down eventually. We had sent in a few products to get tested. We were putting a rush on everything.”
Still, Calalang, 26, and associate Brian Johnson, 25, needed to withdraw from worlds, the place they might have additional established their credentials on the worldwide skating scene.
“Initially we thought it would go away pretty quickly,” says Jenni Meno, who with husband Todd Sand was a three-time nationwide pairs champion and now coaches Calalang-Johnson with Sand. “We knew it was an odd situation and were confident Jessica had not taken anything she shouldn’t.
“We knew it was a giant deal, however didn’t suppose it could have an effect on the remainder of the season. We quickly discovered that was not the case.”
While they could still train but were unable to participate in any U.S. Figure Skating sanctioned or sponsored events, Calalang and Johnson fell into a sort of career limbo just as planning for the Olympic season was beginning. Her funding from U.S. Figure Skating was frozen, though the federation provided support in several areas such as education, physical and mental health resources.
A U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee ombudsman walked Calalang through the machinations of such violations and suspensions, and her options for retaining an attorney.
“I didn’t notice it’s important to go that far,” Calalang says. “Yes, the feelings that we have been all experiencing and the uncertainty was very difficult to deal with between March and now. Everything was so unsure, issues have been altering every day, a lead after which not, a glimmer of hope after which not.”
In early summer, UFC fighter Rob Font, who fought in May, had his ban dismissed when USADA found that chlorphenesin, a non-prohibited cosmetic preservative found in shampoos and lotions, can also metabolize into 4-CPA. Calalang had been using similar products.
“I had used all the identical make-up earlier than,” she says, “and it was only a large shock to me.”
At the end of June, her attorney, Howard Jacobs, notified Calalang about potential changes in rules regarding 4-CPA to be voted on at the end of September. If those regulations passed, it would likely result in no violation for her. And USADA suggested she remain in the case until then. In return, USADA offered to lift her provisional suspension, allowing Calalang to compete and receive funding immediately.
“This was the absolute best news I may have gotten, one thing that at that time I used to be doubting was even potential,” she says. “This gave me extra hope that I used to be going to compete once more and that my identify shall be cleared.”
Font’s case was different than Calalang’s, too. Font was cleared first because UFC has its own anti-doping policy which WADA, the world body for policing drug use in sports, is not a part of. USADA could clear him without seeking WADA’s approval. Calalang’s case required WADA’s approval.
While they hoped for a resolution, Calalang and Johnson also were fighting the clock. The Grand Prix series, the major competitions leading toward the national championships and then toward Beijing, would begin with Skate America on Oct. 22. Competing in two of those events could be critical for their chance to make the Olympics.
It wasn’t until Sept. 30 that Calalang was fully cleared by WADA and USADA — too late to be entered in any Grand Prix events except Skate America, for which the federation gave them a spot.
“If Jessica didn’t have the sources and help to retain a lawyer to help her, this might have simply been one other case the place an harmless athlete finally ends up serving a prolonged ban,” Jacobs says. “While we can’t return in time and provides Jessica the chance to take part on this planet championships that have been wrongly taken from her, we do hope that the anti-doping authorities will rapidly treatment this flaw of their testing protocols, and that they’ll accomplish that in a clear method.”
Now, they are free for competitions, with funding fully reinstated. They finished fourth last weekend at an event in Finland.
“I feel what they’ve gone by means of as a workforce over the previous few months has made them stronger,” Meno says, “and I feel they know they will face something. The method they pushed by means of and stored coaching, Brian all the time there for Jessica, so much of help. What they’ve gone by means of is so large, emotionally, greater than going to a skating competitors.”
Next week, they head to Las Vegas for Skate America. Calalang recognizes that her battle was important not only to herself and Johnson, but for all athletes.
“I do not need this to occur to anybody else,” Calalang says. “It was such an disagreeable expertise … it could have been simple to throw up my fingers and say `YOU WIN.’
“I knew I didn’t do anything wrong on this, and kept fighting and didn’t give up. I didn’t wave the white flag; we didn’t. There were times I wanted to, felt absolutely helpless. But we’d keep fighting for this (outcome).”
Credits : foxnews