US Pairs skater Jessica Calalang cleared of drug violation | Golden Skate

US Pairs skater Jessica Calalang cleared of drug violation

el henry

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Jessica Calalang, a U.S. pairs skater and potential member of the team for next February’s Winter Games in Beijing, recently had a suspension from the sport overturned. Calalang had tested positive for a banned substance in January at the national championships, and it took eight months for her name to be cleared.


The entire story, including the results of the test, the steps that Jessica took during the appeal, and USFS reaction, can be found here:

 

ManyCairns

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Wow. Who knew? I am not awake yet but if ANY cosmetic company is using banned substances, there needs to be a full investigation and monitary compensation. Thanks to APNews and MFarone (and el henry) for bringing this to my attention.
Compensation for what? I don't think cosmetics companies should have to keep up with what preservatives are banned by various athletic governing bodies. As long as we're not talking health risk, or something illegal. The athletes are the ones who have to know the rules of their own sports federations and international governing bodies. I'm not saying it's not a lot to keep up with, but it surely isn't the responsibility of a cosmetics company.
 
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CoyoteChris

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Compensation for what? I don't think cosmetics companies should have to keep up with what preservatives are banned by various athletic governing bodies. As long as we're not talking health risk, or something illegal. The athletes are the ones who have to know the rules of their own sports federations and international governing bodies. I'm not saying it's not a lot to keep up with, but it surely isn't the responsibility of a cosmetics company.
Now that I am awake, I re-read the story. Quote:
"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."

At that point, an all points bulletin should have gone out to the sporting world about this effect. But I am not letting the cosmetic industry off the hook. (They used to strap down primates and rub chemicals into their eyes and watch for reactions.) In this case, when they found out that the preservative could metabolize into 4-CPA in anyone's body, someone needed to point this out and change lables or ban the substance.


Our world is full of chemicals that harm our bodies.... like endocrine disruptors....where is the FDA?????
 

ladyjane

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I am so pleased that Jessica was cleared! I recall some of the nasty speculation at the time about there being a drug violation. Turns out the speculators were right, except not in the way expected. Kudos to Jessica! This must have been a really nasty experience - you know you've not done anything wrong, you can't say anything, and there's the speculation on the boards which you can't publicly refute. Go Jessica and Brian!
 

Moxiejan

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I am so pleased that Jessica was cleared! I recall some of the nasty speculation at the time about there being a drug violation. Turns out the speculators were right, except not in the way expected. Kudos to Jessica! This must have been a really nasty experience - you know you've not done anything wrong, you can't say anything, and there's the speculation on the boards which you can't publicly refute. Go Jessica and Brian!
I completely blame USFSA for not being upfront about this from the beginning — as would have happened in any other sport — instead of issuing an incorrect statement about the Worlds WD being a “personal” decision. It should have been stated that there was a positive drug test & suspension that Jessica & coaches & lawyers believed to be false & were disputing; this would have prompted an outpouring of support from the skating community instead of the months of speculation. (And, really, with the on/off/on of the funding & ISP status, a drug suspension was the only reason that made sense.)

Who knows? Had the reason been revealed sooner, expert sleuths might have suggested the cause (her makeup) far sooner than the months that it took.

Jess still would have had to leave all public comment about this to her lawyers, but I have to believe that all the secrecy forced upon her was unnecessary and cruel.
 

Weathergal

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This is heartfelt:
That is gut wrenching. So much respect for her and her team and everyone who supported her. I kept thinking that whatever the issue was, it wasn't something that they did wrong, and indeed that turned out to be the case. I'm so sorry to hear what she went through. The way she talks about things is impressive, too - there are many who would have not been so gracious as she is being.

Whether you enjoy their skating or not, I think it would hard not to pull for them after this!
 

gold12345

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Calalang refers to her drug test as a "false positive" in her statement, which isn't accurate based on the article, which states it was a legitimate positive test for 4-CPA. The way she eventually got her suspension overturned was by waiting for a "potential change in rules regarding 4-CPA in September". It's unclear if that potential rule change was in direct response to Calalang's case, or if USADA just happened to be reviewing this particular drug in September. If it's the latter, she's very fortunate that the timing worked out so well, otherwise the suspension may have affected her for years. To her credit, she & Brian continued to train as usual despite the uncertainty.

How was this kept a secret for 8 months? It should have been listed as the reason for C/J's withdrawal from Worlds. I could see why the parties involved wanted to hide it, I'm just very surprised they were allowed to, since a failed drug test usually becomes public quickly, and then you hear about the athlete appealing the suspension (nearly every athlete says they have no idea what happened). It led to a lot of wild speculation that could have been avoided if they had just been upfront from the start. The way their name kept disappearing from various lists (funding, assignments) with no explanation was so odd.

As an elite athlete, you have to be extremely careful what substances you put in/on your body, almost to the point of paranoia. Skaters should know that anything you put on your skin can be absorbed by your body just as well as if you ingest it. I would hope USFS & every governing body urges their athletes to constantly check ingredient labels. Calalang mentioned she has used these same products before so she was shocked to test positive, but ingredient lists are continuously changing. Literally every time you buy a new bottle of cream or whatever, you should double check the label and research any new ingredients.

If a cosmetic product can truly cause a positive drug test, this is very alarming. This is unheard of for a female athlete, and I would think every Team USA athlete should be notified of which product/brand this was immediately. The article doesn't specify was product Calalang was using or what type of substance it was (lotion, cream, powder). If this situation is as innocent as Calalang claims (she seems like a lovely person and I empathize with her, but the way they avoided mentioning what kind of product she actually used was odd), I hope all other athletes are notified about this product so that nobody else has to go through this.

C/J are fortunate that USADA cleared them to compete in July even though they were still technically suspended through Sept. This allowed them to at least be assigned the Skate America host pick, whereas the spot would have certainly went to someone else had they had to wait until the suspension was officially overturned. Even though it was a huge blow for them to miss Worlds again, this could have been much worse for them, so they lucked out overall. Let this be a reminder to all athletes to not put anything near your body unless you're absolutely certain what's in it.
 
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noskates

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I disagree that the USFSA should have broadcast that Jessica failed a drug test. My reason for this is that statement alone will or would follow her throughout the rest of her skating career. It has really negative connotations instead of the somewhat innocent mistake of using the wrong makeup. I agree with Coyote Chris that the cosmetic companys should make it clear if they have a substance in their formulas that could be considered a forbidden agent. I can't imagine in what universe a figure skater would have to worry about what makeup they use. It's not like asthma or allergy medication or others.......When you swallow a pill or get a shot or rub some cream somewhere then I agree an elite figure skater should determine without a doubt that it's safe for them to use!!! But makeup????

I'm just really glad Jessica and Brian can compete again and I wish them all the luck this year.
 

gold12345

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I disagree that the USFSA should have broadcast that Jessica failed a drug test. My reason for this is that statement alone will or would follow her throughout the rest of her skating career. It has really negative connotations instead of the somewhat innocent mistake of using the wrong makeup.

USADA would be the one that would normally publicly announce a positive drug test, it didn't have to come from USFS. And I believe the ISU requires you to provide a legit reason when with you withdraw from events, so it's a bit surprising they allowed C/J to list "personal reasons" when withdrawing from Worlds. You're right that a failed drug test never sounds good and it makes sense why USFS wouldn't want to announce it. Its just surprising that nobody else at all leaked it for 8 months.


I agree with Coyote Chris that the cosmetic companys should make it clear if they have a substance in their formulas that could be considered a forbidden agent. I can't imagine in what universe a figure skater would have to worry about what makeup they use. It's not like asthma or allergy medication or others.......When you swallow a pill or get a shot or rub some cream somewhere then I agree an elite figure skater should determine without a doubt that it's safe for them to use!!! But makeup????

Even poppy seeds can cause you to fail a drug test, that's how careful you have to be. I don't think cosmetic companies are keeping up with the WADA list of banned substances. There are many weird ingredients in cosmetics and lotions. And then sometimes manufacturers will change the formulas and replace one chemical with another, so you need to stay on top of what exactly you're rubbing into your skin I guess.

The idea that this could trigger a positive drug test is pretty hard to believe, especially since a lot of female athletes are likely using the same products and it's not like we've ever heard of this before. It didn't seem like they wanted to say what products/brand Calalang actually used that led to the issue, so who knows what it even is exactly. But I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, and if it's something normal like a basic lotion, hopefully at least USADA knows about it so they can warn other athletes. If I lost time in my career due to face lotion, I'd be suing people. I don't get this story. Maybe lotions have fine print that says "may cause adverse reactions and use them at your own risk" or something.
 
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lurkz2

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USADA would be the one that would normally publicly announce a positive drug test, it didn't have to come from USFS. And I believe the ISU requires you to provide a legit reason when with you withdraw from events, so it's a bit surprising they allowed C/J to list "personal reasons" when withdrawing from Worlds. You're right that a failed drug test never sounds good and it makes sense why USFS wouldn't want to announce it. Its just surprising that nobody else at all leaked it for 8 months.




Even poppy seeds can cause you to fail a drug test, that's how careful you have to be. I don't think cosmetic companies are keeping up with the WADA list of banned substances. There are many weird ingredients in cosmetics and lotions. And then sometimes manufacturers will change the formulas and replace one chemical with another, so you need to stay on top of what exactly you're rubbing into your skin I guess.

The idea that this could trigger a positive drug test is pretty hard to believe, especially since a lot of female athletes are likely using the same products and it's not like we've ever heard of this before. It didn't seem like they wanted to say what products/brand Calalang actually used that led to the issue, so who knows what it even is exactly. But I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, and if it's something normal like a basic lotion, hopefully at least USADA knows about it so they can warn other athletes. If I lost time in my career due to face lotion, I'd be suing people. I don't get this story. Maybe lotions have fine print that says "may cause adverse reactions and use them at your own risk" or something.
The original posted article states that Calalang tested positive for a metabolic product of a banned stimulant (and not for any banned drug). A wrestler had his ban lifted when USADA found that a preservative used for cosmetic products would also lead to that metabolic product. So I don't really think you can blame Calalang for failing to check the label.

Not sure if it's accurate but in the other forum ppl are claiming the product was a lash serum.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Wow. Who knew? I am not awake yet but if ANY cosmetic company is using banned substances, there needs to be a full investigation and monitary compensation. Thanks to APNews and MFarone (and el henry) for bringing this to my attention.
It explains in the article that a legal substance in the cosmetic product metabolizes into a banned substance. 😥

An athlete in a different sport had a similar problem, which is ultimately how Jessica's situation was solved. This is just wacky that they can't find a better way to monitor drug violations without falsely accusing innocent athletes!

There should definitely be monetary compensation alright -- for the falsely accused athletes!!


They should make an app so athletes can scan a product and see if there's anything lurking in there.
Not helpful in this instance, since there was no banned substance in the products Jess was using. The culprit was a legal substance that metabolizes into a banned substance. This is the responsibility of the testing and monitoring agencies to figure out in order to prevent false accusations, which are so harmful and career impacting for athletes.


Not sure if it's accurate but in the other forum ppl are claiming the product was a lash serum.
Jessica refers to it as a make-up product in the article, so perhaps.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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Calalang refers to her drug test as a "false positive" in her statement, which isn't accurate based on the article, which states it was a legitimate positive test for 4-CPA. The way she eventually got her suspension overturned was by waiting for a "potential change in rules regarding 4-CPA in September". It's unclear if that potential rule change was in direct response to Calalang's case, or if USADA just happened to be reviewing this particular drug in September. If it's the latter, she's very fortunate that the timing worked out so well, otherwise the suspension may have affected her for years. To her credit, she & Brian continued to train as usual despite the uncertainty.
A substance in a product Calalang was using metabolizes into 4-CPA. The product DOES NOT contain 4-CPA or any other banned substances. The freakish metabolizing into 4-CPA is the reason why USADA reviewed and changed their rules regarding 4-CPA. This situation was discovered because the same thing happened to an athlete in wrestling, who used a similar product that contains the substance which metabolizes into 4-CPA. This information is included in the article I read, so some of what you are indicating is inaccurate.

The review is directly because of the discovery regarding the substance that metabolizes into an illegal substance. Jessica's luck is that this situation happened to another athlete, and the problem was uncovered. It definitely would have been a long drawn out problem for Jess without the discovery in the similar case.

I totally agree with @Moxiejan that had the situation been made public sooner, Jess might have resolved the dilemma sooner, in addition to finding ally support from other athletes who have faced similar false accusations. In any case, there was probably behind-the-scenes support anyway from a number of individuals. It is possible though, that Jess and her coaches wished for the incident to remain private until it was resolved. Or else, it was the decision of U.S. figure skating to keep the details quiet.
 

Moxiejan

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I totally agree with @Moxiejan that had the situation been made public sooner, Jess might have resolved the dilemma sooner, in addition to finding ally support from other athletes who have faced similar false accusations. In any case, there was probably behind-the-scenes support anyway from a number of individuals. It is possible though, that Jess and her coaches wished for the incident to remain private until it was resolved. Or else, it was the decision of U.S. figure skating to keep the details quiet.
My point is that it should never have been the decision of USFSA to report an untrue reason for the Worlds WD (it was not a “personal” choice; it was required at the moment they were suspended). Yes, as soon as it was reported, Jess and/or coaches should have had the chance to either respond (“we believe this accusation to be unfounded and are fighting it vigorously while we continue training”) or to remain private (“we won’t comment while the investigation is ongoing”).

It should be noted that the unfortunate USFSA coverup didn’t result in rumors/allegations against just Jess. It also served to point fingers at others who were not involved — Brian & their coaches. All of this was happening in the context of other investigations (Cipres, Coughlin, etc.) & the USFSA explanation of “personal reason” left something like those situations as one of the rumored possibilities. So unfair to Brian!

We all want skating to be treated as a “real” sport and its competitors to be treated as “real” athletes. But I can’t think of any other sport in which a suspension of any nature could be covered up in this way.
 
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