A seemingly minor doubt – do athletes have the right to take a shower before passing anti-doping control? – The bad manners of a disobedient sportsman and the silence that has surrounded the issue have generated, in spite of themselves, the biggest international suspicions in much time on the independence of the Spanish anti-doping agency (AEPSAD), which has filed the case of Sergio Ramos, the footballer who showered before a control after Málaga-Real Madrid last April.
Neither the question is innocent nor the answer simple. And not from the AEPSAD, whose director, José Luis Terreros, refers to a statement as ambiguous as its regulations; nor from the Superior Council of Sports (CSD), whose president, María José Rienda, is also president of the governing council of AEPSAD, has tried to end the doubt for the benefit of athletes, drivers and the public in general.
Everything depends on the sport that is practiced and the authority that is in charge of the control. Three different articles, inserted in three different regulations for the same act, that of a urine control, allow three different interpretations. A cyclist controlled by the International Cycling Union (UCI) can not shower before a control, as this is clearly stated in its regulations and applies even if the corridor is muddy and soaked after a Paris-Roubaix, for example; If the athlete is not a cyclist and the control is ordered by any other international federation, they can shower, but in the case of a control ordered by the Spanish agency, the legality of the shower depends on the controller's gaze.
And it will depend, above all, on the spirit and spirit of those responsible for the agency when interpreting the meaning of the copulative conjunction and Greek inserted after a comma in a series before joined by the disjunctive conjunction or in article 77.2 of the Royal Decree of 2009 that regulates the controls in competition: The control agent "shall prohibit him from showering or bathing, and urinating".
The Andalusian doctor who, mandated by the German company PWC, tried to prohibit him from showering the captain of Real Madrid interpreted that the article prohibits bluntly showering, without further ado. The player told him that the UEFA controllers let him take a shower, which is not unreasonable, since the European football regulations do not mention the word "shower" once (and only once the appointment of FIFA, where stipulates that the doping control room must have a shower, sink and toilet).
Those responsible for the Spanish agency (AEPSAD) initially interpreted the matter with the restrictive gaze of the anti-doping agent and, as revealed Der Spiegel, they started an informative procedure for a very serious presumption of the player five months later.
What happened next is open to speculation. It is only officially known that the AEPSAD finally decided not to open a disciplinary proceeding against Ramos for lack of "sufficient evidence or evidence of a possible infraction". The reason has not been made public, but the conclusion that the lawyers of the agency clung to the copulative conjunction of the article to back down is supported by the interpretation of Volker Laakmann, director of PWC.
Without referring specifically to Ramos case, Laakmann draws attention to article 5.4.1 i of the regulation established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (AMA) to regulate the matter, the International control and investigation standard. "The athlete will not be able to urinate in the shower," says the regulation, without further ado. "It should be assumed that the spirit of the Spanish rule that talks about showering and urinating is translating the rules of the AMA," says Laakmann. "But I do not know, I'm not talking about Ramos case specific".