There's an old legal aphorism that goes, "If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table."
American long jumper Jarrion Lawson, 25, must have been very good at pounding the table.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned Lawson’s four-year ban imposed on him after a 2018 positive doping test. The test found traces of anabolic steroids in his system, an obvious no-no for world class athletes.
According to an Associated Press report, Lawson’s defense revolved around the fact he ate a bowl of beef at a Japanese restaurant in Arkansas on June 2, 2018. He claimed, and the three-judge panel unanimously agreed, that the beef must have been the source of the hormones in Lawson’s system.
Whoa! One must wonder if Lawson also sold the judges a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge?
Worth noting was the judging panel included Richard McLaren, who led investigations into the Russian doping program. Trenbolone formed part of a steroid mixture, known as the “Duchess” cocktail, developed in Russia and used by its athletes ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
But any credibility of the three-judge panel gets washed away with their Lawson decision by saying the reasons traces of anabolic steroids were found in his sample “more likely than not that the origin of the prohibited substance was contaminated beef consumed in a restaurant the day before the test.”
Seriously? More likely than not, these three judges don’t have a nanogram of knowledge about hormones in beef – a nanogram being one-billionth of a gram, and the common measure of hormones in beef.
First, let’s just say that hormones are not a contaminant in beef, as all beef has hormones.
Second – and this is the incredulous part – there is no way the miniscule hormones in a bowl of beef could show up as an increase in Lawson’s system the next day.
Realizing this is a complex issue and that you might think this reporter more than a little biased towards beef, I turned to an expert for confirmation of my theory about Lawson pulling one over on the three-judge panel.
Mahesh N. Nair, Ph.D., assistant professor of meat science at Colorado State University’s Center for Meat Safety and Quality, says, “The chance of (Lawson) getting that (positive test) from beef is low… like zero to impossible.”
Nair says there have been many peer-reviewed studies showing that hormone levels in beef given implants for growth are found “in only really low quantities.” As in, nanograms. Beef produced from cattle given hormone implants contain 10 nanograms per pound. Compare that to 7 nanograms per pound in beef from non-implanted cattle. (Source: Penn State Meatblogger.)
Several years ago I heard a professor describe a nanogram as “one blade of grass in a football field.” That also seems like approximate odds Lawson’s positive test was the result of eating beef. But, hey, if you don’t have the facts or the law on your side…