DURBAN - South African long-distance runner Louisa Leballo has been banned from taking part in sports events for eight years for a doping violation and an attempt to subvert the testing process.
The 39-year-old Leballo was tested out of competition by the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) in South Africa on March 20 this year.
An analysis of the urine sample by the Doping Control Laboratory in Ghent, Belgium, returned an adverse analytical finding, revealing the presence of the Peptide Hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO).
It was also alleged that the Pretoria athlete had tried to persuade SAIDS’s 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 the bans should run consecutively - effectively eight years.
Leballo has won many races through the years and represented South Africa in cross-country and half-marathon events.
In the period between being tested and then provisionally suspended on May 25 - when the result was returned - Leballo won the 10km Spar Women’s Challenge in Cape Town (on April 2) and finished third in the Two Oceans half-marathon (April 15).
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 was itself prosecutable.
He noted the recent case where Manchester United footballer Phil Jones was banned for two matches and teammate Daley Blind fined 5 000 for being verbally abusive towards a doping control officer after the Europa League final on May 24.