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Starting Young: 13-Year-Old Polish Kart Driver Appealing Doping Ban

Pictured above is Igor Walilko, a 13-year-old kart racer, who is wildly popular in his homeland of Poland. He is also, according to the FIA, the governing body for the organization he races in, a certified drug cheat. When Walilko was 12-years-old, in July of 2010, he allegedly failed a drug test administered after a race in Germany. The results of the test indicated that Walilko tested positive for the banned stimulant nikethamide and a 2-year suspension was handed down, a decision Walilko is currently in the process of appealing in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Jeez, kids these days. Getting all mixed up in a bunch of crazy hijinks. All I know is at that age, I certainly wasn’t…

(thinking)

Um, enough about me. This is about poor Igor.

Walilko’s attorney, Michael Lehner, characterizes the ban as an extremely difficult ordeal for a child who has experienced tremendous amounts of pressure for a kid his age (via The Canadian Press):

“He was very famous in Poland and, one day after, he was a criminal child,” Lehner said in a telephone interview. “He has good chances to go to a career in motor sport, and now with a two-year ban it’s finished.

“He has a lot of talent,” Lehner said. “The father pushed him, this is normal in sport, but the father doesn’t push him in doping.”

Certainly an interesting story that conjures up several questions, among them:

  1. Do kart racers, who cruise around in machines like the one Walilko is shown driving in this photo, really require stimulants in order to compete at the highest level?
  2. Is doping running rampant in the quasi-sport?
  3. If Walilko is truly a doper, how in the hell is this 12-year-old kid getting his hands on this stuff?

So many questions, but at least the kid has a savvy attorney by his side.

The World Anti-Doping Agency classifies nikethamide as a specified substance that allows for explanations of accidental use – if an athlete proves how it was consumed.

“A 12-year-old boy is not able to remember what he eats the whole day,” Lehner said. “Maybe he gets it from some friends, we don’t know.”

Lehner also stated that for a 12-year-old child, “it’s not easy to understand complicated rules.” Boy, ain’t that the truth. To think about what what kind of kid I was at the ripe old age of 12 and how much I have grown since then…well, I guess I’m really no further along at this stage in my life now. Huh. But this isn’t about me. This is about some punk Polish kart racer who is running around with the wrong group of kids when he should be worrying about and focused upon other stuff. Like girls…or whatever else Polish* teenage boys worry about, which is apparently competitive kart driving and how to beat doping bans due to failed drug tests. I guess.

* I was thinking about cracking a politically incorrect joke about Polish people right here. Then I remembered how Norm MacDonald feels about them and reconsidered.

Thanks, Norm.

13-year-old karting driver appeals doping ban at CAS after failed drug test [The Canadian Press]