Jolanda Ceplak Nearing Doping Ban for EPO by Bob Ramsak (c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved November 20, 2007
Slovenia -- Olympic 800m bronze medallist Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia
edged closer to a two-year doping ban today after the nation’s
athletics federation rejected any doubts about the validity of the
athlete’s positive test for EPO last June.
“All doubts about the
tests’ accuracy have been disproved,” said Peter Kukovica, president of
the AZS, Slovenia’s athletics federation, announcing the unanimous
decision by the federation’s anti-doping commission.
31-year-old Ceplak, the world indoor record holder in the 800m, tested
positive for the banned blood booster EPO after an out-of-competition
test in Monte Carlo on June 18. The B sample test confirmed the A
sample finding, resulting in a provisional suspension by the sport’s
international governing body, the IAAF, on July 26.
September, the anti-doping commission was unable to reach a decision in
the case, pending an additional investigation. Expert testimony since
from two noted biochemists and the Slovenian athletics team doctor has
dispelled any possibility of testing irregularities, Kukovica said.
“After further hearings, we have concluded that all the proper procedures were followed,” Kukovica said.
case will now be turned over to the federation’s disciplinary
commission, which according to federation guidelines must rule on the
athlete’s fate by December 18. A two-year ban is expected.
announcement of her doping charge and subsequent provisional suspension
shocked this tiny alpine nation of 2 million, where Ceplak is by far
the most popular and well-known female athlete. With her career on the
track on hold, Ceplak has been working as an endurance trainer for
Ljublana’s Interblock football club.
Ceplak set the current
world indoor record in the 800m, 1:55.82, at the 2002 European Indoor
Championships and the following August won the European title outdoors
as well. While struggling with injury since, she finished third at the
2004 Olympic Games, and took silver at the European indoor
championships last March.