Lim banned, See is marathon champ

Lim Baoying helping Rachel See after the latter crossed the finish line at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on Dec 9 last year. The change in standings means See retained her 2017 title.
Lim Baoying helping Rachel See after the latter crossed the finish line at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on Dec 9 last year. The change in standings means See retained her 2017 title.ST FILE PHOTO

StanChart local women's winner suspended 3 years 9 months over prohibited substance

Rachel See was yesterday named the women's marathon Singaporean champion for last year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), more than five months after the Dec 9 race.

This comes after the original winner Lim Baoying was banned three years and nine months by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) after testing positive for a banned substance at the race.

When contacted, a joint statement by race organisers Ironman Asia and the SCSM said Lim's ban "changes the official standings for the 2018 (race) and includes forfeiture of any medals, titles, awards, points, and prize and appearance money in accordance with AIU rules".

It added that See - the race's top local woman in 2017 - has been elevated to the women's marathon Singaporean champion for last year's race, and "all prize money will be reallocated based on new result standings".

Both Lim and See could not be contacted by press time yesterday, but Lim told The Straits Times earlier this month that she accepted AIU's decision when she received a provisional suspension.

Lim was the top local female finisher of the marquee running event last December in 3hr 16min 36sec, while See (3:18:36) and Hu Xiuying (3:18:57) were second and third respectively.

But she tested positive for modafinil - which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) prohibited list and prescribed to people with sleep disorders to help them stay alert or improve focus - in the mandatory post-race doping test for podium finishers.

According to an AIU statement on May 15, the 37-year-old Lim ingested "a quarter of one tablet of modafinil 200mg" before the event "in order that she could stay awake after the race".

She did not have therapeutic usage exemption for the medicine, but declared her usage during the post-race doping control.

Lim, a resident physician at the Changi Sports Medicine Centre, said she realised only after the race that modafinil was not allowed, and contacted Singapore Athletics to relinquish her title.

In a previous interview with ST, she also said that she did not make any claim for the $10,000 prize money.

The AIU statement stated that Lim "admitted" the violation and neither requested a test on her B sample, nor asked for a hearing on this issue.

Lim could have been banned for four years for her violation, and while the AIU "does not consider this explanation for the Athlete's ingestion of modafinil sufficient or credible", the AIU and Wada reduced the ban by three months based on two considerations.

One, that Lim used "a non-specified stimulant, in-competition, shortly before participating" in the marathon, and that she "is an experienced athlete and a physician specialising in sport, who has served several times as a physician in Major Sport Events (including the Youth Olympic Games) over the past decade".

"The Athlete failed to exercise even the most elementary caution; in short, she has no excuse."

Both Ironman Asia and SCSM yesterday also reminded all athletes to be "responsible for the choices they make when it comes to nutrition and medications taken".

"When seeking medical guidance, it is important to advise doctors that you are subject to anti-doping rules and follow the therapeutic use exemption process if, or when, necessary."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Lim banned, See is marathon champ'. Print Edition | Subscribe