Slovenian Federation Upholds Ceplak Doping Ban
By Bob Ramsak
(c) Race Results Weekly 2008, all rights reserved March 27, 2008
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – The Slovenian Athletics Federation (AZS) has
upheld a two-year doping ban for Olympic 800m bronze medalist Jolanda
“It was a difficult decision to reach, but we have concluded that
Jolanda Ceplak is guilty,” said Slavko Cerne, the president of the
federation’s Disciplinary Commission after a seven-hour session that
didn’t conclude until after midnight Thursday.
The 31-year-old Ceplak, the world indoor record holder in the 800m,
tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO at an
out-of-competition test in Monte Carlo on June 18, 2007. 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, 2007.
Citing illness, Ceplak was not present at the hearing, which was held
behind closed doors due to “the personal and sensitive nature of some
of topics” being discussed. Cerne stressed that the hearing could have
been rescheduled in order for Ceplak to attend, but her attorney
declined making that request.
The news of her doping charge and subsequent suspension last July
shocked this tiny alpine nation of 2 million, where Ceplak was among
the most popular and well-known female athletes.
In addition to her Olympic bronze from 2004, Ceplak has collected gold,
silver and bronze medals at European Championships indoors, as well as
continental gold outdoors in 2002.
Ceplak, who has recently stated that she would like to continue her
career, now has eight days to appeal the ruling to the AZS, and also
has the option of taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.