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Haga Saga

Yamaha’s World Superbike star, Noriyuki Haga, who was leading the WSB points just last week (before the Monza round) is still the subject of an FIM investigation into an excess (over FIM specified limits) quantity of Ephedrine in his urine sample taken at the Kyalami round earlier this year. We’re going to quote a press release from Yamaha issued earlier today (below), but first a few thoughts.

Ephedrine occurs naturally in some herbs (including, apparently, the Ma Huang supplement taken by Haga) as well as other over-the-counter cold remedies, nutritional supplements, etc.

Assuming Haga took this substance inadvertently, and for purposes other than giving him an unfair advantage in a race (pretty good assumptions, frankly), it would be a shame to see him seriously penalized by the FIM. If the FIM is going to outlaw substances found in common cold remedies and nutritional supplements, is it fair to the riders, unless it is proven that they knew the banned substance was present?

Ephedrine, as I understand it, stimulates the bodies metabolism rate. This doesn’t sound like a body reaction conducive to better performance on a roadrace track. I would be interested to hear why the FIM has banned this particular substance (in quantities beyond a stated level). In any event, Haga’s ability to win this year’s WSB championship may hang in the balance. Here is Yamaha’s press release:

“On May 22nd, 2000, Yamaha World Superbike Team rider, Noriyuki Haga, was informed by the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) that their International Jury will refer his Kyalami testing case to the FIM’s International Disciplinary Court (CDI).

“The results of the B-sample analysis, performed in the IOC (International Olympic Committee) accredited doping control laboratory in Cologne, Germany, show the positive test for ephedrine was brought about by Haga’s use of a dietary supplement containing the naturally occurring ephedra compound “Ma Huang.” In addition to a range of herbal and dietary supplements, ephedrine is commonly found in ordinary eye drops and cold remedies. Consequently the IOC (and therefore the FIM) allow a level of ephedrine to be present in a urine sample, up to a concentration of 10 micrograms/ml. Establishing the exact concentration of ephedrine present in a sample is a complicated process. The IOC requires the test results to be corrected for the presence of related substances, as well as for measurement deviations. In this case, none of the official test results published so far have been corrected accordingly.

Haga declared earlier that he was not aware of having taken any restricted substances and did not know that the compound “Ma Huang” contains ephedrine. The FIM regulations do not mention “Ma Huang” as a banned substance.”