Thursday 22 March 2018

Anti-doping system 'a bit of a farce' - Colvert

Irish sprinter's sample reading 'implausible', insist experts as calls grow for case to be re-opened

Irish sprinter Steven Colvert. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Irish sprinter Steven Colvert. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Sport Ireland is facing calls from international anti-doping experts to re-open the case against sprinter Steven Colvert, who was suspended in June 2014 after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO).

The Mullingar athlete has always protested his innocence, and continues the fight to restore his reputation. Earlier this week he moved a step closer when a team of independent researchers in Norway questioned the methods used by the Cologne laboratory in Germany to determine his positive test.

In an article published in Lab Times, they highlight inconsistencies in the EPO readings in Colvert's urine sample, describing the lab's findings as "implausible". They also suggest the findings were based on the subjective opinion of experts, a method ruled impermissible in such cases in a prior case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"It is obvious that something is wrong and the problem must be clarified before making any judgement on whether Steven Colvert did use rEPO," wrote lead author Tore Skotland. "If not clarified, the only fair decision should have been to drop the case."

Professor Roger Pielke Jr, a respected author on political science and sports governance, called on Sport Ireland to re-examine the case and allow Colvert a chance to clear his name. "It's pretty clear the Irish Sports Council didn't give him a fair attempt at a defence," he said. "If their evidence is strong then it will stand up to a second look, and if not then he deserves to have his reputation cleared."

However, such a move remains unlikely. "Sport Ireland does not intend to re-examine the evidence," they wrote in an email last night.

Colvert, meanwhile, says is still disillusioned by the case against him.

"I always had faith in the (anti-doping) system and thought it was right," he said yesterday, "but this shows it's a bit of a farce."

Irish Independent

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