I would like to make an official statement based off the news that has come out regarding my top weightlifter, Sarah Robles. I was informed while out-of-town that Sarah had failed her WADA drug test from the Pan American Championships. My first reaction was that of both shock and disbelief. My second thought was “Did she take a pre-workout stimulant that was banned and she did not know it.” When I found out that it was for DHEA, I again was like “What? This doesn’t make sense. That’s impossible. Sarah knows better than to take that…its a well-known banned substance!” When it was confirmed it was DHEA, I grew very angry. Never have I ever encouraged, promoted, nor given any banned substances to any of my weightlifters. I have never taken any banned substances as an athlete and will not allow my athletes to take them. Sarah completely acted on her own. I was never aware of her decision to take this substance. I am personally hurt and embarrassed over this entire situation. I have always prided myself on my coaching ethics and integrity. Sarah acted alone.
The only conversations that I ever had with Sarah regarding DHEA was back about a year ago when she was getting blood work done by a local doctor regarding some irregularities with her hormones. It was at that time that the doctor noticed that her naturally occurring levels of DHEA were very low. Then the doctor recommended a small dose of DHEA to bring her levels up to normal. It was suggested that it would help her with many of her symptoms she was facing for having low levels of DHEA along with her other hormone abnormalities. It was at this time when Sarah presented the blood results to me and the recommendations of her doctor. I informed her I was not in a position to comment on this and that she should fill out a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) form with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) to be sure before she went any further. She like many other people, had a legitimate medical reason for taking this product, but as an elite athlete she needed to follow the proper channels, as I told her. Later on, Sarah had informed me that her TUE form had been denied. I informed her again not to take anything and have her medical doctor submit further information. During this whole process, I informed Sarah NOT to take anything without specific approval from WADA. I was not kept in the loop whether or not the second TUE was submitted. All of my conversations with Sarah up to that point were that she would not take it.
Fast forward to the information given to me that she had failed her drug test for DHEA. When I asked Sarah why she took it after I told her not to, she couldn’t give me a straight answer. When asked why she didn’t inform me, she couldn’t tell me. She had told me she took the product during the period right around the Pan Am Championships.
I have coached Sarah since 2008. I feel that I am closer to her than any of my other athletes because of all the things we have gone through in this sport. I am deeply hurt that she did this. Again I never told Sarah that it was ok to take this supplement. Sarah is not a bad person, she is just young, immature, and made a stupid decision. She made an extremely bad choice and deserves to suffer any repercussions she may face from the IWF and USAW. She like anyone in life has to realize that there are consequences for your actions.
Do I feel that this supplement drastically changed Sarah’s lifting? 100 percent No. Sarah’s accomplishments at the Pan Am’s and subsequent Nationals were the product of my program and hard work. Sarah was capable of these numbers for more than a year. You can trace Sarah’s numbers back and realistically see that her numbers have never drastically spiked, they have gradually improved through hard training within my program. Sarah has been in the drug testing program since 2008 and has been drug tested at least 12 times a year. She never failed a drug test up until this occurrence. This is not a deliberate act to try to beat the system, but Sarah failed to follow the rules and regulations.
This should not be a poor reflection on my current athletes or on me as a coach. I accomplished a lot in this sport before this event and will continue to develop and produce great weightlifters in the future. I am a man of honor and integrity. All of my athletes can attest to this. Because of my values and love of this sport, I chose to suspend Sarah because of this unfortunate event. Sarah has been suspended indefinitely from my program.