Athletics

Top SA runner slapped with 8-year ban

Louisa Leballo (Gallo Images)
Louisa Leballo (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South African long-distance runner Louisa Leballo has been banned from sports for eight years for a doping violation and an attempt to subvert the testing process, the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) revealed on Wednesday.

According to the Sowetan website, Leballo, 39, was tested out-of-competition by SAIDS on March 20.

An analysis of the urine sample by the doping control laboratory in Belgium returned an adverse analytical finding, revealing the presence of the peptide hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO), the statement said.

It was also alleged that the Pretoria athlete had tried to persuade the SAIDS' 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, making it an eight-year ban in total.

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 Spar Ladies 10km in Cape Town (on April 2 in a 32:55 personal best) and 13 days after that she came third in the Two Oceans Half Marathon‚ also in a career best time.

SAIDS chief executive 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 is a prosecutable offence.

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