The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand on Wednesday announced an eight-year ban for Olympic long distance runner, Zane Robertson after failing a drug test and tampering with the doping control process.
Robertson – the New Zealand record holder in the marathon, half marathon and road 10km – in May 2022, tested positive for erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO, at a race in Manchester, England.
EPO is a hormone naturally produced in the kidneys which controls the formation of red blood cells. When administered to athletes, it can increase the amount of oxygen delivered to muscles, improving recovery and endurance.
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The 33-year-old Robertson was given a four-year ban for the positive test and a further four-year ban after the sports tribunal ruled that he had “sought to subvert the doping control process.”
According to the tribunal judgment, Robertson claimed as part of his defense that he had attended a medical facility in Kenya to get a Covid-19 vaccine; instead, though, he said he was treated for Covid-19, which he claimed involved the administration of EPO.
He provided sworn affidavits from Kenyan doctors, hospital notes, a hospital report and a witness statement from a Kenyan detective to support his claims, arguing that there was “no fault or negligence” on his part.
However, Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ), the party opposing Robertson during the tribunal, highlighted the “clinical implausibility” of the treatment the athlete said he received.