Distance runner Leballo banned for eight years for doping offences
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.