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FutureStarrA National Treasure on the Rise Is Hit With a Doping Allegation
An Australian athlete has been charged with doping. His suspension from training last month followed a urine sample testing positive for synthetic erythropoietin, an illicit blood booster which has resulted in suspensions for runners, biathletes and even disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong.
After weeks of waiting, he received the results from a second test - the B sample - which the antidoping agency declared "atypical," proving his innocence.
Australia has long been at the forefront of combatting doping in sport and was one of the first countries to establish an anti-doping agency. As part of WADA, Australia abides by their standards.
Australian athlete Peter Bol was suspended earlier this year after testing positive for a prohibited substance at the start of the year, with his ban backdated to January 10. As such, he could not train or compete at any level.
Bol, despite his positive test, maintained his innocence and promised to fight the allegations. After his B sample cleared him of all suspicion, Bol's provisional suspension was lifted; however it's important to remember that Bol remains under investigation by Australia's doping watchdog.
According to SIA, Bol's A sample had returned an "Adverse Analytical Finding," while his B sample produced an "Atypical Finding" for recombinant EPO - which cannot be produced naturally by the body and therefore violates the WADA Code.
The anti-doping agency did not yet have a timeline for the investigation, but did note that they would consider any violations of anti-doping rule requirements.
This is not the first time an Australian athlete has been suspended over a doping issue. In 2012, Matthew White and Stephen Hodge were both suspended by ASADA after admitting to violating anti-doping regulations.
ASADA's role in the Australian National Anti-Doping System requires it to enter into individual confidentiality undertakings with sporting organisations. These legal contracts provide protection for personal information.
However, there is controversy over this approach. NSOs can suspend athletes without ASADA's consent if they are found to have doped, but such penalties violate international law.
The Australian Olympic Committee recently passed a By-law that permits it to create its own anti-doping policy, which may not be in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. This move circumvents Australia's own Parliament which prohibits national organizations from altering the code in an unfavorable way. According to this author, WADA should step in and allow NSOs to write their own anti-doping protocols that adhere to the WADA Code without fear of athletes being expelled from the Olympics.
Following his remarkable run in the 800 metres final at Tokyo, Australia's Peter Bol is considered one of Australia's greatest and rising talents. However, Bol has been accused of doping which could derail his plans to compete at next year's Paris Games.
He is fighting to clear his name and could potentially be exonerated as soon as March if his B sample comes back negative, according to lawyers and coaches. But the process could be lengthy and laborious.
Last month Athletics Australia suspended Australian athlete Ben Bol for testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is prohibited under World Anti-Doping Agency rules and was found in Bol's system during an out-of-competition test that occurred last October.
That wasn't the first time Bol had come under scrutiny from sports doping laws. In 2008, he tested positive for an illegal substance at a European track event but later cleared of charges.
Since then, Bol has had a series of positive out-of-competition tests. He tested positive for EPO in both the 5000m and 10,000m races at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, as well as failing a doping test at the 2016 Commonwealth Games.
But Bol's suspension has hindered his progress and forced him to focus on preparing for the World Athletics Championship in Budapest this August - his first race back on the global stage since his doping incident.
He hopes a positive result on his B sample will be enough to clear him and give him the chance to compete at Paris, but this may not be possible. His legal team is working diligently to obtain any laboratory reports regarding test results as soon as possible.
Bol is more than meets the eye; he's an inspiring social activist who has dedicated much of his life to advocating for Sudanese rights. In 2006, he embarked on the Sudan Freedom Walk - a three-week journey across America designed to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and human-rights abuses in his home country.
On the verge of winning a major national award, an Australian athlete was disqualified when tests revealed they had tested positive for synthetic erythropoietin - an illegal performance-enhancing drug which increases red blood cell production. This has resulted in suspensions for many athletes including cyclist Lance Armstrong.
On Thursday, Mr Bol informed a radio station that he had not used any performance-enhancing drugs. He only took a blood booster for his training and said there were no side effects from taking it. Additionally, this drug had not been taken since January when it was discovered.
He expressed concern that the doping allegation could hinder his chances of winning the Young Australian of the Year award, which will be presented later this month. He explained that he had been informed of the allegation by an anti-doping agency after being suspended, but didn't know how it happened or if it had been published.
At first, the agency told him it wouldn't release the result until both samples had been analyzed. However, shortly thereafter, Mr Bol felt confident enough in its accuracy that it should be made public.
Days later, Mr Bol was contacted by the agency and informed of the leak. He expressed shock and frustration at being informed of this development as he attempted to make sense of it all.
In December, 15-year-old Valieva tested positive for a prohibited substance at the Russian figure skating championships in St. Petersburg but still competed. As a result, Russia's anti-doping agency issued her with a provisional ban.
On February 9, she successfully appealed the ban at a hearing and was eventually vindicated. A day later, the agency lifted her suspension.
Figure skater is now expected to undergo a thorough investigation by Russia's anti-doping agency (RUSADA) before she can compete. A panel of experts will then judge her on merits; if found guilty, her appeals will go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
No matter Bol's denials, his career now hangs in the balance. A four-year ban, which could prevent him from competing at either Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, would be devastating to a young star whose already precarious path could become even more dire.
Following his suspension, Bol is no longer eligible to train at any level - national, state or club - nor compete at any level. Furthermore, he cannot receive funding, use official facilities or hold a position with an organized sports group. Furthermore, his entry ban could extend up to four years, effectively ruling out Olympic hopes and placing him far away from competing at the world championships.
His team is ready to fight the allegations and believe the first test was a marginal reading corrected by a B sample. But his beloved coach Dick Telford warned it would take strength of character for them to recover from this experience.
He said he must put in the work over the coming months to achieve success and remove the stain and stigma of doping. However, he added, the stain must be erased to move on.
Sport Integrity Australia reported an "Adverse Analytical Finding" (AAF) for erythropoietin receptor agonists, while the "B" sample revealed an "atypical finding" for recombinant EPO, which is not produced naturally by the body. It added that an anti-doping authority investigation into this matter was ongoing.
According to SIA, both A and B samples were taken at Melbourne's Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in October and analyzed in a WADA-accredited laboratory.
The A sample tested positive for erythropoietin, an endurance-based drug that enhances red blood cell production and oxygen utilization during exercise. It has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
After his initial suspension, Bol was given a chance to contest it before a panel of judges; unfortunately, he lost.
On January 10, a court ruling was retroactively applied, meaning he must sit out the remainder of his athletics career and could face up to four years in jail.