CrossFit Games Team Athlete Janelle Stites Will Appeal Drug Policy Violation

Stites qualified for the 2021 CrossFit Games with team On Track.

CrossFit Games-qualified athlete Janelle Stites (formerly Shafer) may lose her and team On Track’s qualification for the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games due to an out-of-competition drug policy violation she received as an Olympic weightlifter in 2019. Stites is a member of team On Track, which placed fifth overall at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge — a 2021 Games Semifinal event — to earn a spot at the Games.

Stites took to her social media pages to share a video addressing the situation. You can watch that video below, courtesy of her Instagram page:


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A post shared by Janelle Stites (@thelinellez)

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According to their announcement, “CrossFit, LLC may recognize drug policy violations, including positive drug tests, reported by other national anti-doping organizations from in-competition or out-of-competition testing performed by these agencies on behalf of other sports governing bodies.” Stites accepted a four-year suspension from Olympic weightlifting by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). She tested positive for the selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) ostarine, a banned performance-enhancing drug (PED), during a January 2019 drug test.

CrossFit can recognize USADA’s suspension for that same drug test. Section 12 of the CrossFit Games Drug Policy states, “Athletes who violate the Drug Testing Policy are subject to sanctions. These sanctions may be applied to the entire team if a team athlete violates the Drug Testing Policy.” CrossFit’s standard sanction for a doping violation is four years. However, they can determine their own sanction for doping violations reported by other national anti-doping organizations.

By her own admission, Stites’s drug test revealed 0.2 nanograms of ostarine per milliliter of blood. This was “a shock” to her:

I have no idea where this came from. I’m not a cheater. That’s not who I am.

Stites petitioned for USADA to reduce her four-year suspension to a two-year suspension but was unsuccessful. For reference, her suspension began in January 2019 — the day her sample was tested. Had Stites’s two-year suspension request been accepted, it would have been fully served by January 2021. Instead, her current USADA-issued suspension lasts until January 2023.


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A post shared by Janelle Stites (@thelinellez)


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Stites was preparing for the Pan American trials to qualify to compete for Team USA at the Pan American Championships when she learned of her doping violation. As a weightlifter, Stites has represented the USA in Chiang Mai, Thailand at University Worlds, ranked seventh overall at Nationals, and placed second overall at University Nationals.

Stites made her CrossFit Open debut in 2013. Her best finish to date was a 79th overall rank in 2018. Her appearance with team On Track at the 2021 CrossFit Games would be her Games debut. The other members of team On Track, which competes out of Olathe, KS, are:

  • Nick Peterson
  • Adison Balderston
  • Joe Cates

Should CrossFit HQ decide to withdraw On Track’s invitation to the Games due to Stites’ doping violation, the invite would slide to team CrossFit Reignited Wilmington.

Per CrossFit’s Drug Testing Policy, Stites has 10 business days to submit a petition, which she already has. We will update this article with their decision regarding Stites and team On Track’s Games qualification as soon as it is available.

Feature image: @thelinellez on Instagram