Dis­tance run­ner Le­ballo banned for eight years for dop­ing of­fences

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

SOUTH African long-dis­tance run­ner Louisa Le­ballo has been banned from tak­ing part in sports events for eight years for a dop­ing vi­o­la­tion and an at­tempt to sub­vert the test­ing process.

The 39-year-old Le­ballo was tested out of com­pe­ti­tion by the South African In­sti­tute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) in South Africa on March 20.

An anal­y­sis of the urine sam­ple by the Dop­ing Con­trol Lab­o­ra­tory in Ghent, Bel­gium, re­turned an ad­verse an­a­lyt­i­cal find­ing, re­veal­ing the pres­ence of the pep­tide hor­mone Ery­thro­poi­etin (EPO).

It was also al­leged that the Pre­to­ria ath­lete had tried to per­suade Saids’s dop­ing con­trol of­fi­cer to can­cel the test. The ath­lete was charged with an anti-dop­ing rule vi­o­la­tion and for at­tempt­ing to sub­vert the dop­ing con­trol process. Le­ballo con­ducted her own de­fence at the hearing, which was held on July 19.

She was given the max­i­mum four-year sanc­tion for each of­fence, and the panel ruled that they should run con­sec­u­tively – an eight-year ban.

Le­ballo has won many races over the years, and rep­re­sented South Africa in cross-coun­try and half-marathon events.

In the pe­riod between her be­ing tested and then pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended on May 25 – when the re­sult was re­turned by the lab­o­ra­tory – Le­ballo won the 10km Spar Women’s Chal­lenge in Cape Town (on April 2) and fin­ished third in the Two Oceans half-marathon (April 15).

Saids chief ex­ec­u­tive Khalid Galant said the find­ing on Le­ballo’s at­tempt to sub­vert the process should serve as a warn­ing to ath­letes that at­tempt­ing to co­erce or in­tim­i­date a dop­ing con­trol of­fi­cer was it­self a pros­e­cutable of­fence.

He pointed to the re­cent case in Bri­tain where Manch­ester United foot­baller Phil Jones was banned for two matches for be­ing ver­bally abu­sive to­wards a dop­ing con­trol of­fi­cer.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred af­ter the Europa League fi­nal on May 24. Jones’s team­mate Da­ley Blind was fined €5 000 (R78 000) for a sim­i­lar of­fence on the same night.

Jones and Blind had ap­par­ently ob­jected to be­ing asked to at­tend drug con­trol pro­ce­dures while their team­mates cel­e­brated af­ter the match. – Staff Re­porter

GUILTY: Louisa Le­ballo has been found guilty of dop­ing.

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