In February Brandon Cattouse participated in the three day Valentine’s Classic Tour in which he won second place. He gave the standard urine sample for doping which was administered by Dr. Michael Pitts, who is the sole volunteer representative of NADO. When the results came back to Belize in April, the samples were reported to be adverse. This was a blow to Cattouse who denied taking any enhancement drugs and fought a suspension. The case would then go to arbitration at the Regional Anti-Doping Organization of Central America (RADO-CAM). RADOCAM then heard submissions from attorney Darrell Bradley on behalf of NADO and from Hector Guerra on behalf of Cattouse. It is not just a win for Cattouse, but it’s a black eye for NADO Belize which has little financial support. Cattouse’s attorney held a press conference this afternoon to lay out the merits of his case.
Hector Guerra Attorney for Brandon Cattouse: My client has been in fact vindicated from all doping allegations; purported doping allegations that were over his head for over about four months now. It’s definitely a joyous occasion for my client.
Brandon Cattouse: Well I am just glad to be back and I can race again; you know I feel that weight lifted off of me from the suspension because I missed all the previous race that they had and the road champion is coming up on Sunday so that means that I could ride back so I am very happy that you know everything get back to normal and we would want like this not to happen again to anyone else or another cycle or another athlete in a next sport or something like that.
Jose Sanchez: The Federation did its part as it was supposed to do; do you bear any ill feelings or all is well between you and the Federation or is that?
Brandon Cattouse: No the Federation didn’t do its part.
Hector Guerra Attorney for Brandon Cattouse: After having reviewed all the evidence and all the circumstances along with the submissions made by both parties; Dr. Yelmo found that in fact the way NADO Belize handled my client’s case was in gross departure from the international standards required from National Anti-Doping Organizations across the world. Mr. Bravo in fact affirmed my client’s position that he has never taken an enhancement performance drugs; in fact the evidence in this case showed that after having collected my clients urine samples. Those samples were taken to the private dwelling of the director of NADO Belize and it was kept there for almost four days unaccounted for without any document to show who had access to those urine samples. Where exactly the urine samples were kept ? The decision has shown that NADO Belize which is the organization in charge of regulating doping in Belize is not compliant with international standards. NADO Belize lacks the basic resources for example in the decisions Mr. Bravo finds that NADO Belize doesn’t even have an office. It shows that NADO Belize doesn’t have the necessary facilities such as refrigeration to store athletes’ samples after it has been extracted from them. The larger context is that NADO Belize is not just in charge of doping in cycling but doping sports in general in Belize and so its concerning for all athletes.
The short explanation is that the arbitrator is indicating that for the future NADO Belize must store samples under defined criteria to ensure the integrity of the samples and they must certainly not be stored inside the refrigerator of the NADO Belize Director. We must point out that Dr. Michael Pitts is in a volunteer position, he himself is not being criticized in the 17 page report on the issue. The arbitrator Alberto Yelmo Bravo appears to sympathize with Dr. Pitts and says “ It is not a problem of Dr. Pitts, who has acted in good faith when making such voluntary anti-doping efforts…any Anti-Doping Organization in the world with only one operational voluntary member would find it impossible to comply with the strict rules of the WADA system… this cannot affect the rights of Belizean athletes, who are not to be blamed in any way of the fact that the Government of Belize does not devote economic and human resources to the fight against doping at the national level.”
There’s a race this weekend for cycling and Brandon Cattouse will participate in it. It is not clear how samples from that race will be stored. Love News reached out to Dr. Pitts but we were unable to reach him by phone. NADO Belize can appeal the decision under RADO_CAM Anti-Doping Rules.