Meridian Athletes Banned

September 8, 2017

Five athletes who competed at the 2017 Meridian Regional have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and received four-year bans.

None of the sanctioned athletes—one female and four males—placed high enough to earn a trip to the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games, but all five have received disqualifications from the 2017 season after positive results from directed drug testing. They will be prohibited from participating in any CrossFit-sanctioned events through the 2021 season.

The disqualified athletes are:

  • Stella Christoforou, who tested positive for clenbuterol

  • Andrea Barbotti, who tested positive for clomiphene

  • Paweł Leśnikowski, who tested positive for clenbuterol, modafinil and elevated testosterone levels

  • Gianluca Occhino, who tested positive for tamoxifen

  • Ľudovít Czókoly, who tested positive for clomiphene

In July, after reviewing test results from the qualifying athletes from all eight Regionals, CrossFit disqualified one Games-qualifying individual athlete and two Games-qualifying teams. Drug tests for the five non-qualifying Meridian athletes, who competed in the third week of Regionals, required additional testing and time for the appeals process to conclude.

CrossFit conducts drug testing on all Regional and Games podium finishers, select members of qualifying teams, and additional non-podium athletes chosen at random. In addition, athletes may be randomly or directly selected for testing throughout the year—both in and out of competition.

The Meridian disqualifications are a result of directed testing, which means that CrossFit had information it deemed reasonable that led to screening specific athletes and increasing the total number of tests for performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs, in that region.

“Drug testing at the Regional level is an important prerequisite for advancing to the CrossFit Games,” CrossFit Games General Manager Justin Bergh said. “Based on the behavior of certain athletes and allegations made through our support channels, we decided to change the timing and total number of samples collected from athletes outside the top five. There can be no tolerance for athletes who use PEDs at any level of competition, and the results from this will immediately affect our testing plan for subsequent events.”

The CrossFit Games are the world’s definitive test of fitness, and a level playing field is an absolute necessity for crowning the Fittest on Earth. A strong drug-testing program, such as the one CrossFit has implemented, is a requirement to ensure fairness and accuracy. CrossFit partners with Drug Free Sport—the organization that conducts drug testing for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NCAA, along with 300 other sports and athletic organizations—to administer tests. A laboratory approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency processes blood and urine samples.

Athletes may be sanctioned for a number of infractions besides positive test results, including tampering in any way with samples; evading, refusing or failing to submit to a drug test; or attempted or successful trafficking of any prohibited substances or methods. CrossFit may also recognize violations, including positive tests, reported by other anti-doping organizations, such as the United States Anti-Doping Agency, in its in- and out-of- competition testing within other sports.

The use of PEDs negatively impacts the legitimate athletes who compete fairly under the CrossFit Games Rulebook.

“Use of performance-enhancing drugs is a reality in many professional arenas. We’re committed to being the exception,” Bergh said. “We will provide the resources necessary to expand the depth and volume of directed testing in and out of competition, and will continue to use information gained from our global community to weed out those who would cheat.”

The organization is committed to disclosing information about infractions as soon as its investigations are completed and the athletes’ appeals have been considered. The full 2017 Drug Testing Program policy can be found here. CrossFit is committed to ensuring it’s a drug-free sport and will work to eradicate the use of PEDs for competitors.