MONACO: The Athletics Integrity Unit has banned Rio 2016 Olympic champion Thiago Braz for 16 months for the presence of ostarine glucuronide which the athlete said he consumed through sports supplements containing the banned substance.

The 30-year-old Brazilian pole vaulter, who won Olympic gold in front his home fans eight years ago and followed up with bronze in Tokyo five years later, will now miss the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. He was deemed to have breached the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules (ADR 2.1) relating to “Presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in an Athlete’s Sample”.

Ostarine glucuronide is a metabolite of ostarine and is a Prohibited Substance under the WADA 2023 Prohibited List in the category S1.2 Other Anabolic Agents. It is a non-Specified Substance, prohibited at all times. Ostarine is used to enhance muscle growth and athletic performance.

Braz, who was provisionally suspended by the AIU on 28 July 2023 after returning a positive result following an in-competition test at the Bauhaus Galen Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on 2 July, will be barred from competing until 27 November 2024, with his period of provisional suspension being credited towards time served.

The AIU, which will consider appealing the 16-month ban, had sought a four-year sanction for the athlete, contending in particular that he was “reckless” and acted with “indirect intent”; he was aware of the risk involved of using supplements sourced from compound pharmacies in Brazil and had “manifestly disregarded that risk”.

However, the Disciplinary Tribunal ruled that, while Braz had been “personally informed” about the high risk of contamination involved in using the supplements and had consequently “ignored this risk”, he was not deemed to have manifestly disregarded the risk because he had relied on his medical team for advice. A majority of the panel determined he was not at “Significant Fault or Negligence”.

“Athletes from Brazil, including Mr Braz, have been specifically educated about the dangers surrounding the use of supplements from compound pharmacies in Brazil. This has occurred via AIU online forums and AIU athlete advisory notices,” said AIU Head Brett Clothier.

“In the light of these very clear warnings, it is disappointing to be dealing with such a case.”

Braz, a former World Under-20 champion and South American champion, argued he did not knowingly use ostarine as he had been given the supplements – containing the banned substance – by his sports nutritionist with the objective of improving his health. The athlete further contended that he had been assured by the nutritionist that the relevant research of the pharmacies involved had been undertaken and had also been assured that “none of the supplements that were being provided to him contained any substances banned by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency)”.

In reaching its final decision, the Disciplinary Tribunal said it was satisfied based “on the balance of probabilities” that the origin of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) was the contaminated supplements produced by Scienza Farma.

Braz has filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).