Irish 200m champion Steven Colvert has vowed to do whatever he needs to prove his innocence after the shock revelation that he tested positive for EPO.
"I have to clear my name because this is much bigger than this finding, it has repercussions for my whole future," said the 23-year-old law student from Mullingar who is facing a two-year ban if he cannot prove his innocence.
"I have never touched EPO in my life," Colvert said. "I didn't even know how it was taken until this. I am going to fight it until I am completely vindicated."
The Crusaders sprinter had passed four drugs tests this year before 'recombinant erythropoietin' (EPO) was found in his system on May 20 when he was tested at DCU during his exams.
EPO boosts red blood cells and is usually associated with endurance athletes like distance runners and cyclists.
Irish marathon runner Martin Fagan, who is also from Mullingar, has just returned to competition after serving a ban for EPO to which he confessed, but Colvert said any comparison "is ridiculous".
"I'm a sprinter, a power athlete so EPO would have no benefit for me," he said. "You'd want to be daft to use a drug that is so easily detected and of no benefit to you."
Colvert generally steers clear of all supplements but took a generic multivitamin (bought in a supermarket) and an iron supplement (Galfer) two days before the test.
"I've taken Galfer before, I suffer from low iron and I usually take it for a day or two and am back to normal.
"If you go on to the Eirpharm website (which lists sports' banned substances) Galfer gets a green flag," he said.
Colvert still has samples and batch numbers of what he took. He intends having them independently tested and has also asked for his 'B' sample to be tested.
"I have nothing to hide, I firmly believe there has been some sort of human error in the testing or a false positive," Colvert said.
He cited the case of US distance runner Bernard Lagat, whose 'B' sample for EPO was negative, and also that of Belgian triathlete Rutger Beke, who proved that his body was capable of producing EPO naturally.
Colvert missed qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics by two hundredths of a second and his best of 20:90 last week was short of his 20:57 PB. He joined John Shield's sprint training group last winter and the veteran Dublin coach has strongly backed him.
"Steven is quite adamant that he took nothing and I believe him," Shields said.
Yesterday's revelation put a huge dampener on Ireland's participation in the European Team Championships in Tallinn this weekend, where Colvert was due to race the 100m, 200m and relay. David Hynes (100m) and Marcus Lawlor (200m) have replaced him.
Meanwhile, Ireland's top sprinter and current holder of the 100m and 200m national records Paul Hession has confirmed his retirement from athletics.