Peggy Shinn Blog- "A rookie mistake?"

July 20, 2008, 1:14 p.m. (ET)

On July 16, USA Gymnastics announced that Morgan Hamm was confirmed on the men's Olympic team despite testing positive for a banned anti-inflammatory drug during the 2008 VISA Championships.

Results from the VISA Championships counted toward 40 percent of the Olympic qualifying scores. Hamm tested positive for a glucocorticosteriod on May 24, 2008, the second day of competition.

In a video statement released July 4, Hamm said his doctor gave him an injection in his ankle on May 2 because pain and swelling were making it tough to work out.

"I asked (the doctor) at the time if there was anything in the shot that was banned, and he said no," Hamm said in his statement.

Hamm continued training in May and competed at the VISA Championships, where he was drug tested.

"I thought everything was cool," he said. "I didn't know you had to get a therapeutic use exemption form to take that drug."

At the end of his statement, he says that the glucocorticosteroid he received is "something that a lot of gymnasts take."

Hamm and his physician have since provided the USADA with the proper documentation showing that he had a valid medical reason for receiving the injection. He said it was "an innocent mistake," that it "wasn't performance enhancing at all" and that it was "something that I did just to get through the pain and help with the inflammation."

I believe him. And the U.S. men's gymnastics team needs him. Morgan and twin brother Paul bring experience to an otherwise young gymnastics team. At the 2004 Olympics, Morgan finished fourth in high bar and eighth in floor. At the 2000 Games, he finished seventh in floor. He and Paul also helped the team finish fifth in Sydney, then win a silver medal in Athens.

But doesn't it seem like a rookie mistake for a two-time Olympian to make, especially with use of performance-enhancing drugs being a popular topic in the news? And it's not like the information is hard to find.

The USADA Web site has a Guide to Prohibited Substances available to download which clearly states (on page 41) that glucocorticosteroids are on WADA's list of prohibited substances and require a therapeutic use exemption to use out of competition.

The USADA Web site also has the therapeutic exemption forms available to download.

If I were so lucky as to be make an Olympic team, I might hop online to find out if what a doctor was about to inject me with was something that might put my name on the front page. And not in a good way.


Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.