Hammer thrower Mark Dry says he has been “thrown under the bus” over his four-year ban for a breach of doping rules.
The double Commonwealth Games medallist has appealed to the athletics authorities for help in taking his anti-doping case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), as he continues his fight to clear his name.
But in his first interview since being sanctioned in February, the Scot told BBC Sport the saga had “turned into his worst nightmare”.
“This is a huge miscarriage of justice, and it’s just really disheartening,” he said. “But I will not sit down on this and be bullied because I’m poor.”
Dry was initially cleared by a national anti-doping panel after admitting to wrongfully claiming he had gone fishing on the day he missed a drugs test in 2018.
However, he was subsequently banned after UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) appealed against the decision, and he was found guilty of tampering.
His legal team argued the tribunal’s ruling was “unfair” and “erroneous”, and that his punishment was “grossly disproportionate”.
Dry has since contacted Scottish Athletics, UK Athletics (UKA), the Athletics Integrity Unit and the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) asking for his case to be re-examined and taken to Cas.
According to Ukad rules, an individual is unable to appeal against appellate tribunals.
The Scot and his legal team have argued that this has “the potential of violating athletes’ individual rights”, but he said a lack of positive response suggested he had “no route to move forward, it’s just disheartening”.
In April, UKA told Dry that his appeal had exhausted the disciplinary process under its rules, and that it would be for World Athletics, the AIU or Wada to consider the case.
Ukad chief executive Nicole Sapstead said Dry’s offence was “a serious breach” and “undermines the anti-doping process which athletes and the public depend on to have confidence in clean sport”.
She added that the tribunal “operates independently from Ukad” and “brings objective scrutiny to cases”. The sanction, she said, was “in accordance with the applicable anti-doping rules”.
UK Athletics has declined to comment.
What is the background?
Dry was initially charged a year ago, having given false information in October 2018 after unintentionally breaking “whereabouts” anti-doping rules.
He says he had forgotten to let the authorities know exactly where he would be, but then “panicked” and told Ukad “a white lie” – that he had been out fishing – when in fact he had been at his parents in Scotland.
“I’d been on the programme since 2012,” he explained to BBC Sport. “I filled it in every single day, and I just forgot. I went to my parents’ house, but the drug testers came to test me at my house and I wasn’t there.
“I wasn’t thinking straight, I wasn’t training [because of a hip injury]. I thought my career was over, I just I wasn’t paying any attention to anything.
“I got an email about it asking why I wasn’t at that address? I panicked and said I was out fishing, instead of saying ‘I was up with my parents and I forgot to fill in the paperwork’.”
Dry and his partner both wrote to Ukad saying he had been fishing, despite a neighbour having told inspectors he had travelled to Scotland. He then admitted the truth.
The panel ruled the lie did not constitute tampering, in part because no sanctions would have been forthcoming for the filing failure, which was a first offence.
However, Ukad then appealed against the decision and in February a tribunal said the Scot had “lied” to “subvert the anti-doping process”.
‘It’s cherry-picking & it’s disgusting’
“I’ve been given four years when there’s drug cheats getting one month, three months, six months, two years for knowingly and willingly taking anabolic steroids to gain an advantage,” claimed Dry.
“I’ve made a human error, a mistake, one which I admitted to. I’ve just been thrown under the bus. It’s a travesty, and for sport it’s a dangerous decision. It sets a horrific precedent for an abuse of power. You can’t just use me as a beating stick to threaten everyone else.
“It’s clearly cherry-picking who they want to target, and who they don’t want to target in these situations, and I just think it’s disgusting. It’s time that athletes, and organisations, come together and stand together.
“This is about defending what’s right in sport. This can’t be allowed to happen. You can’t have people on athlete panels that are supposed to be there to be listened to… and they’re just dismissed.
“It’s scary that there is no one to answer for this. We’ve been to the authorities, and nobody’s replying to us – we have nowhere to go. Who do I go to, to have justice upheld?”
‘I won’t be bullied because I’m poor’
Dry’s case has been supported by representative body Global Athlete, which says it is “astonished” by the case and has called upon UKA, World Athletics and Wada to back the hammer thrower’s attempt to appeal.
Wada president Witold Banka responded, saying he was “committed to ensuring that athletes’ rights are upheld”.
But Dry – who cannot now compete until 2023 – says the punishment threatens to end his career.
“This is absolutely game over for me,” he said. “Financially, it’s destroyed me and my family to try and defend myself, which we can’t really afford to do. But I will not sit down on this and be bullied because I’m poor.
“I know I’m not a big-name athlete and that’s fine, it’s not why I’m in this. But it shouldn’t be about how much money you have, or who you’re connected to.
“It should be about what’s right and what’s wrong and this is not right. This is a huge miscarriage of justice and it’s just dangerous and disappointing and really disheartening.”