2nd August 2017

Top SA distance runner banned for eight years

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, 2017.

An analysis of the urine sample by the Doping Control Laboratory in Ghent, Belgium, returned an adverse analytical finding, revealing he presence of the Peptide Hormone, Erythrotpoietin (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 attempting to subvert the doping control process. Leballo conducted her own defence at the July 19 hearing. 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 through 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 CEO 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 for a similar offence on the same night. Jones and Blind had apparently objected to being asked to attend drug-control while the teammates celebrated after the match.

• This media release was originally published on Facebook by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) on 2 August 2017. To access the original, please click here.

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