Ralfs Freibergs Disqualified by the IOC, NCAA Status Unchanged

ncaahockeyLast week, the International Olympic Committee announced that Bowling Green State University Falcon defenseman Ralfs Freibergs was disqualified from the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, retroactively. Freibergs failed a drug test for an Anabolic Androgenic Steroids following Latvia’s game versus Canada.

The Riga, Latvian native just finished up his sophomore season with the Falcons scoring (3g-19a—22pts). During his freshman season, Freibergs was suspended by the NCAA for 33 games for playing in a professional league in Latvia.

Olympic.org — Freibergs, 23, provided a urine sample on 22 February whose A and B samples indicated the presence of a prohibited substance.
The IOC Disciplinary Commission, composed for this case of Denis Oswald (Chairman), Gunilla Lindberg and Claudia Bokel, decided the following:
I The Athlete, Mr Ralfs Freibergs, Latvia, Ice Hockey is disqualified from the Men’s Play-offs Quarterfinals – Canada vs Latvia match.
II. The Athlete is considered as excluded from the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.
III. The Athlete’s diploma (for placing 8th) is withdrawn.
IV. The International Ice Hockey Federation is hereby requested to make appropriate mention of the above in the record of the sports results, and to consider whether it should take any further action within its competence.
V. The Latvian Olympic Committee is hereby requested to return to the IOC, as soon as possible, the diploma awarded to the athlete in relation to the above-mentioned event.
VI. This decision shall enter into force immediately.

Fail a drug test during the Olympics. No problem. According to the Bowling Green Sentinel, Freibergs’ eligibility with the NCAA hasn’t changed.

Ralfs Freibergs’ NCAA eligibility “has not changed,” according to a statement from the Bowling Green State University athletics department Friday afternoon.

The sophomore defenseman on the Falcon hockey team — who played for Latvia in the Sochi Olympics in February — was disqualified retroactively from those Olympics, the result of a failed drug test.

The IOC announced Freibergs’ disqualification Friday for what it termed a steroid offense, The Associated Press reported.

Did BGSU athlete violate an NCAA rule?

I am surprised that Freibergs’ status with the NCAA hasn’t changed. I would think that this is worthy of a suspension. The NCAA forbids athletes from using performance enhancing drugs. Freibergs was caught using a banned substance by the IOC, and banned retroactively from the Sochi Games. This same athlete returned to Bowling Green and played the rest of his college hockey season with the Falcons. Is it possible that the Falcons could have  used an ineligible athlete? Maybe, maybe not.

At a minimum, BGSU had an athlete in their line-up that tested positive for a prohibited substance. The optics of this don’t look very good. Is this not an ethical issue? Absolutely. I think you “could” consider this cheating. I would also think that an IOC drug test has some credibility. Lastly, I also believe that the other members of the WCHA would have a right to take issue with this positive drug test.

Reading the NCAA’s Drug-Testing Program this type of incident isn’t specifically covered in the drug-testing protocol manual. This begs the question, what if BGSU had made the NCAA tourney this season?