Where Things Stand with the Theofanidis Situation

January 30, 2020 by
Credit: Lefteris Theofanidis / @theodesmo

It only took a matter of minutes for the news of Greek national champion Lefteris Theofanidis’ drug breach to shoot across social media and ignite myriad debates on how it’s going to play out.

One big thing: While it may seem that a positive drug test represents case closed, it’s actually not. He not only has a right to appeal, but he is exercising that right, a process that can take quite some time to fully fetter out. For more on that, read my lengthy behind the scenes look inside the testing facility and what it looks like to test an athlete’s B sample.

  • It took more than two months to conclude Anna Fragkou’s positive test case last summer. It was a month after her initial test (August 2) that I observed her B sample test (September 5). It was another month before those results were released.
  • Long story short, this is going to take a little more time to conclude and a lot depends on what happens in the B sample test and any other parts of the appeal that are considered (supplement testing, etc.).
  • If past is prologue, however, Theofanidis will likely receive some kind of sanction and now we have to consider how that affects the CrossFit Games qualification process.

What might happen to the Greek national champion spot: The CrossFit Games rulebook is pretty clear how HQ will handle backfilling national champions; that is they will only backfill in a team scenario.

  • Section 4.02: “CrossFit, Inc. will only backfill a national champion spot if the national champion decides to compete as a member of a team that will be competing at the Games.”
  • A close reading of this section makes it fairly clear: “will only backfill…if the national champion decides” to go team.
  • If HQ did decide to backfill, the spot would go to Giorgos Karavis.

How this affects the Open leaderboard: The short answer is that it has zero effect on the Open leaderboard. A lot of scenarios began circulating immediately following the announcement, but the blue line marking the top 20 doesn’t move up or down. Here’s why:

  • There are only 20 athletes who can qualify via worldwide Open placement.
  • Theofanidis qualified as a national champion, not in the top 20.
  • If Theofanidis is disqualified, it doesn’t create a 21st spot.
  • Here’s another way to consider this: Currently there are eight national champions in the original top 20 (pre-backfill), that’s why the line extended to Ben Smith. Remove all eight of those national champions, Ben Smith is still the 20th placed athlete worldwide. Note: since three top 20 athletes have declined their individual spots, three additional non-national champions were added to complete the top 20, with the 20th spot currently going to Brent Fikowski.

Where things stand: It will probably take at least another month for the appeals process to conclude. From a close reading of the rulebook it seems clear that there won’t be a backfill in the Greek national champion race, but we won’t find for a while.

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