Report: Manufacturing contamination caused failed Olympic drug test

July 27, 2021

Amidst the moments of Olympic glory, this month are also stories of dreams dashed by failed drug tests. 

According to a recent report in Bloomberg, it’s a sad ending to the quest for gold that almost befell an Olympic archer, Brady Ellison. Already a three-time medalist, Ellison tested positive for a diuretic that has been banned because the drug can help flush out — and hide — the presence of other banned substances. At risk for disqualification, his lawyer requested that a different thyroid medication Ellison was taking be sent for analysis. The result? The medication — made by New Jersey-based Alvogen — was contaminated due to both drugs being made using the same tablet press.  

Although cross-contamination due to leftovers from different medications is a well-known issue in the industry, the report highlights how the problem could have a career-ruining impact on elite athletes. Since 2016, 32 Olympic athletes have nearly been disqualified due to contaminated medications or supplements, and nine of the cases involved diuretics. 

Over the years, the FDA has issued a number of warning letters to manufacturers around the world for residue on tablet presses, and the problem has been at the root cause for several large drug recalls. But some experts say that even with rigid cleaning standards, this type of contamination is nearly impossible to avoid.

The Anti-Doping Agency is now loosening standards to account for the inevitability of tablet press contamination.

Read the full Bloomberg report.