Monday 23 April 2018

May rejects expert's claim of error in Colvert case

Irish sprinter Steven Colvert. Photo: Sportsfile
Irish sprinter Steven Colvert. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

The head of Sport Ireland's anti-doping unit has defended the decision to find Steven Colvert guilty of doping despite one of the world's leading anti-doping experts claiming the Irish sprinter is innocent.

Colvert was banned for two years in July 2015 by an independent anti-doping disciplinary panel after testing positive for recombinant erythropoietin (r-EPO), a banned blood-boosting drug, but since then several scientists have called for Colvert's name to be cleared due to inconsistencies in the testing data.

In a documentary aired last week, Don Catlin, one of the most respected figures in global anti-doping, was shown the testing data from the Cologne lab which analysed Colvert's urine sample and he said it appeared negative. "In general they're a good lab, but this is not the first time I've seen problems with a Cologne sample," he said. "I could show you 20 cases like this."

Sophisticated

Catlin created many of the most sophisticated methods used to detect drugs, including EPO, and when asked why the lab would report Colvert's sample as positive, the 79-year-old said: "The people don't know what they're doing."

Dr Una May, who has overseen Sport Ireland's anti-doping unit since 2001, said she had not yet viewed the 13-minute documentary, but she stood behind the experts who found Colvert guilty of doping.

"Scientists are entitled to their opinions and there will always be conflicting opinions but we're confident in that we had scientists from different labs who supported the fact that there was a case to answer," she said. "It was followed through very, very rigorously."

May revealed a decision has yet to be reached in the case of Michael O'Reilly, the Irish boxer tested positive ahead of the Rio Olympics 18 months ago.

May was speaking at the announcement of Sport Ireland's national governing body and high-performance funding for 2018, which will see a total of €20.7m invested across the various sports.

Irish Independent

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