Photo: WSL

Former WCT surfer Raoni Monteiro has been banned from competing in all WSL events for 20 months, after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs during the Billabong Pipe Masters at the end of last year. The Brazilian's use of the prohibited substance, which had been prescribed him by a physician, was ultimately deemed to have been "unintentional", but it was nonetheless in contravention of the WSL Anti-Doping Policy.

The news was in fact announced by the WSL last Friday, in a press release which somehow managed to escape the attention of the media for almost a week. Monteiro is said to have cooperated fully with the WSL Discipline Director's investigations, and has accepted the sanctions imposed upon him. "I made an honest mistake but there are rules to follow and I broke them," he said. "I am looking forward to working hard with the time out of competition, getting back to my best and competing again next year."

The suspension came into effect on 12th December 2014, and will last until 12th August 2016. Asked why it had taken five months to announce the suspension, the WSL's  Dave Prodan replied that “as it is a serious situation, the positive test requires an in-depth investigation with the opportunity to respond on their [Monteiro's] end."

Monteiro had failed to re-qualify for the world tour this year in any case -- in fact he failed to win a single heat all season, a record that was perhaps cited as evidence in his defence. Whatever banned substance Raoni was taking -- and the WSL is apparently unable to specify what substance it was -- it seems it did little to enhance his performance. South African Ricky Basnett was the first to accomplish the feat of going a whole year on the CT without winning a heat. “I’m bummed to be sharing the record, as I worked really hard for it!" Ricky told Surfline last year.

The last surfer to test positive for performance enhancing drugs was Neco Padaratz, who in 2005 was banned for taking anabolic steroids, which he claimed he used as treatment for a chronic back injury. Random drug tests were introduced to the tour in 2011, although Kelly Slater has publicly criticised the testing program, suggesting athletes were not being tested frequently enough.