Olympic Runner Given 8-Year Doping Ban After Allegedly Falsifying Documents and Blaming Kenyan Clinic
Zane Robertson reportedly tested positive for EPO, a substance he said he received while getting treated for COVID-19
Zane Robertson, a prominent middle- and long-distance runner from New Zealand, has been given an eight-year ban by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand for doping and meddling with tests.
According to Reuters, the 33-year-old tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) during the Manchester Great Race in May 2022, a banned substance that boosts the production of red blood cells, providing an unfair advantage in endurance events.
The outlet said that Robertson received a four-year ban for testing positive and a second four-year ban for tampering with evidence.
Per CNN, Robertson claimed that he visited a medical facility in Kenya to receive a COVID-19 vaccine but instead received treatment for the infection, which he said is when he was administered EPO.
The athlete provided testimonies from Kenyan doctors, hospital records and a witness statement from a detective to attempt to show he did not take EPO intentionally.
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But the organization Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) showed evidence from the vice president of the medical center Robertson said he attended, who said he was not administered EPO at the facility and did not visit it on the date he claimed.
DFSNZ also said that Robertson may have presented falsified documents and false testimony, the judgment said.
"In light of the additional evidence collected and filed by Drug Free Sport New Zealand, Mr Robertson has chosen not to rely on the evidence he originally filed and no longer seeks to contest the sanction for the anti-doping rule violations," read the judgment, as cited by The Guardian.
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PEOPLE reached out to Robertson for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
Robertson previously represented New Zealand at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics and won a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
He was credited for time served under provisional suspension but is still barred from competitive sports until September 2030.
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"His actions go against everything the New Zealand Team stands for," Nicki Nicol, the chief executive and secretary-general of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, said in a statement published by The Guardian. "We condemn all forms of doping. Every athlete has the right to compete on an even playing field and Robertson's actions have undermined the integrity of sport."
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