2017 Reebok CrossFit Games podium finisher Ricky Garard has been stripped of his third-place title after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing substances in a sample taken after this year’s final event.
Additionally, CrossFit has disqualified two other athletes.
Tony Turski, a 56-year-old masters athlete from Southern California who finished second in the Masters Men 55-59 Division, tested positive for Anastrozole. Fifty-two-year-old Josée Sarda of Canada East, who placed first in the Masters Women 50-54 Division, tested positive for selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), ostarine and testolone.
Garard, a 23-year-old from Australia, will lose the US$76,000 he’d won for his third-place overall finish and his first-place finishes in the Madison Triplet and Cyclocross events. He’s also been banned from participating in any CrossFit-sanctioned event through the 2021 season, and his invitation to compete in the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Invitational has been rescinded.
With Garard’s disqualification, Patrick Vellner becomes the third-place finisher of the 2017 Games.
The sample taken from Garard at the 2017 Games tested positive for testolone, and a beta-2 agonist known as endurobol. Anabolic agents and beta-2 agonists are specifically named as banned classes of drugs in the CrossFit Games Rulebook. CrossFit incorporates its drug-testing program throughout the Games season and outside of competition. There’s no tolerance for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs, in any CrossFit-sanctioned competition.
“The CrossFit Games have never had a top individual athlete test positive for PEDs until this case,” said General Manager of the CrossFit Games Justin Bergh. “Historically, the most frequent causes for a failed test have been masters athletes failing to read and accept our policy for hormone replacement in competition, and individual and team athletes using supplements containing banned substances not found on labels. Garard’s case does not appear to be accidental, and we take this result very seriously.”
Known as the world’s definitive test of fitness, the CrossFit Games ensure a level playing field, in part, by strongly enforcing an anti-doping policy—an absolute necessity in order to crown the Fittest on Earth. CrossFit partners with Drug Free Sport, which conducts drug analysis for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NCAA, along with 300 other sports and athletic organizations, to administer its testing program. A laboratory approved by WADA processes blood and urine samples collected from CrossFit Games athletes.
Competitors may be sanctioned for a number of infractions apart from positive test results, including tampering in any way with samples; evading, refusing or failing to submit to a drug test; or attempting to or successfully trafficking 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 their in- and out-of-competition testing within other sports.
“The Games are an opportunity for athletes to prove their fitness through competition. The diversity of our events is part of what validates the claim that these are the fittest people on Earth,” Bergh said. “Drug testing is another important test, which ensures that the training and talent of the athletes are what determine the outcome. Garard failed to validate his performance this year and will face a four-year suspension from competition. We will closely evaluate the circumstances of his case and others, and adjust our directed testing accordingly. All athletes can be confident that CrossFit will aggressively pursue and punish anyone who attempts to use drugs to gain an advantage in competition.”
In the 2017 season, CrossFit has previously disqualified three athletes who’d won berths to the 2017 Games in both individual and team competition due to PED use. More recently, the organization disqualified five Meridian athletes—four men and one woman—who’d tested positive for PEDs in samples taken during the Regional event. None of those athletes were podium finishers but had been subjected to directed testing because of credible information CrossFit officials had obtained about possible PED use. The announcement of their disqualifications and suspensions came later in the season because of the need for supplemental testing of their samples.
CrossFit incorporates testing of all podium finishers, along with both random and directed testing in and out of the season. The sport is committed to disclosing positive drug test results and punishments in a timely manner once the investigations into the matters are complete.
“Any athlete who uses performance-enhancing drugs is directly attacking his fellow competitors, our community and our sport,” Bergh said. “It is our responsibility, along with athletes themselves, to identify those threats and remove them. As the heads of the sport, we will do our part to provide the means necessary to ensure this continues to happen.”