Deeply placed in yesterday’s MX Sports press release to build hype for the upcoming Muddy Creek National was the latest point in the James Stewart banned substance Supercross saga. Since the initial word of Stewart’s provisional suspension came down last Thursday from the FIM, many have wondered what implications this has on the current Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, a separate series run by AMA Pro Racing and MX Sports. The message was clear in stating that the matter regarding Supercross has no bearing on the Yohsimura Suzuki rider’s eligibility outdoors and that he is free to compete for the remaining eight rounds. Their statement read as follows:
“The provisional suspension of James Stewart by the FIM as a result of an alleged anti-doping violation on April 12, 2014, does not at this time involve MX Sports Pro Racing or the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. At this stage in the results management process, the decision to compete at a National level remains with the athlete, FIM and WADA, as MX Sports Pro Racing is not a Signatory to the WADA Code and does not have the authority to impose a provisional suspension. Our sanctioning body, AMA Pro Racing, has indicated that it will not restrict Stewart from competing in the upcoming Tennessee National and will reevaluate its position pending the final decision of the FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI). If this position changes we will be notified accordingly. Until then, Mr. Stewart is free to compete without restriction.”
Now the question is not can, but will Stewart compete? From what we have gathered, Stewart has been in contact with the FIM since the moment the news dropped but an official statement on the status of the situation from either has not yet come. While WADA dictates that Stewart’s provisional suspension is in effect as of June 20th, the wording of their code leaves a chance for competition in non-Signatory competition, which is exactly what a Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event tested by USADA is. In addition to that, he is still currently able to race in a Signatory FIM event until an official hearing between the two parties (WADA and Stewart) has occurred. This stirs the already murky waters of the affair even further.
One scenario we have heard is that there is a fear of repercussions for lining up to race anywhere, regardless of the FIM’s involvement. Say Stewart were to race through the rest of the season and the FIM viewed it as an act of defiance, would they hand down a strict penalty when the final hearing is ultimately held? A year long ban from Monster Energy Supercross would be a catastrophic blow to Stewart’s career, especially when the 28 year old racer is approaching the average age of retirement in the sport.
Under WADA code, Stewart is able to request the testing of the B Sample taken at the Seattle Supercross, but one must assume that it will test positive as well. That an amphetamine is in the sample is not the debate, as the Yoshimura Suzuki stated he has a long-standing prescription for a health issue that he has documentation for. The issue is if a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) form had been submitted to and received by the FIM and WADA, which would essentially make Stewart’s use of a medicine on the banned list technically legal. This is the next step in a long process that sometimes takes months to resolve, and is the cause of the current gridlock.
The final thing to take into account is the upcoming results of Stewart’s USADA test at the Thunder Valley National in Colorado just weeks ago. Should the same issues with paperwork occur, it could pose another obstacle for all involved. USADA, a separate group in the crackdown of illicit drug use in the sporting world, took both blood and urine samples from a handful of competitors with Stewart being one of the subjects. Because the team states that the use of the prescription is for a long-standing health issue, it’s almost undeniable that it will again show up in the test results.