Wednesday June 29th, 2016

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The United States Anti-Doping Agency has filed a court action in Houston seeking a deposition for Dr. Jeffrey S. Brown, an endocrinologist, as part of an investigation looking into whether he provided athletes with banned substances, according to The New York Times.

The deposition is part of USADA's investigation of Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, who was the focus of a joint ProPublica and BBC report alleging he pushed the boundaries on doping rules to gain a competitive advantage by encouraging the use of prescription medication and therapeutic use exemptions. The report also implicates Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp in the doping scandal. Salazar and Rupp have denied the allegations.

The court filing by USADA was made on June 23. The U.S. Olympic Trials, which Rupp is slated to run in, will begin on Friday. According to the filing, USADA received information athletes potentially traveled to be treated by Dr. Brown in an attempt to enhance athletic performance. This “raises questions about whether some of these treatments may have violated sport anti-doping rules.” A hearing may be held on July 11, according to the Times.

Brown has previously declined any attempts to discuss treatment of previous athletes with USADA, despite the permission being granted by the athletes. USADA wants to know about the substances Brown used in treating athletes, the methods and personnel involved and why the treatments were initiated.

A 2013 Wall Street Journal article noted that Brown was known for diagnosing several track and field athletes with onset hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid can lead to weight gain and fatigue. Other doctors have noted that if an athlete that does not have hypothyroidism takes medication to treat it, it could be seen as a stimulant. The World Anti-Doping Agency does not have thyroid medication on its banned substance list for 2016.

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USADA and UK Anti-Doping have previously voiced their concern and support to ban thyroid medication. 

Rupp previously said that Dr. Brown diagnosed him with hypothyroidism in 2006, as noted by the WSJ. In his 11,000-plus word response to the BBC and ProPublica allegations, Salazar noted that Rupp suffers from severe allergies, breathing issues and hypothyroidism that are being treated by doctors.

Salazar and Dr. Brown also conducted an experiment to avoid being sabotaged by someone rubbing a tainted substance on his athletes. Androgel, a synthetic form of testosterone, was rubbed onto Salazar’s sons to determine whether a small amount could lead to a positive drug test. The results showed that sabotage was unlikely.

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Rupp is slated to run the men’s 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Friday night in Eugene, Ore. He already has his place at the Olympics in Rio assured as he won February’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in his debut at the 26.2-mile distance.

- Chris Chavez

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