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By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- The Slovenian Athletics Federation (AZS) cleared distance runner Helena Javornik of doping charges despite two recent positive tests showing the presence of EPO.

“Helena Javornik did not commit a doping offense,” Tadej Malovrh, the head of the federation’s anti-doping commission said in a statement released early this morning after a four-and-a-half hour hearing concluded.

“This is what I was expecting,” Javornik, 42, the national record holder in all events from the mile to the marathon, told Slovenian national television. “Because I’ve never taken anything illegal.”

Javornik, tested positive for EPO after the LCC Eisbarlauf Half-Marathon in Vienna in March. Her A sample was tested on April 11 and her B sample returned positive on May 13. Maintaining her innocence throughout, Javornik continued to compete until she was provisionally suspended by the IAAF on June 11, after she refused to sign a document forwarded by the global governing body in which she would have voluntarily suspended her right to compete in the wake of her positive tests.

Malovrh, who upon Javornik’s invitation witnessed the testing of her B sample, told the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) that the value of the samples that the IAAF concluded were positive are well “below the standard s set by WADA.”

Malovrh cited several examples, including a large blot which appears in the gel housing Javornik’s sample, which the lab in Vienna said was an air bubble. “Air bubbles in a gel look completely different,” he said.

Malovrh said that there existed several other discrepancies that did not live up to WADA criteria.

Taking a jab at the Vienna lab, Malovrh told STA, “It’s as though we in Slovenia are a bunch of simpletons.”

The ruling by the Slovenian federation could renew interest in the case in neighboring Austria. Austrian distance runner Susanne Pumper also tested positive for EPO after the Vienna race, where she finished second behind Javornik.

Chris Butler, the spokesman for the IAAF’s anti-doping department, said that the global governing body has 30 days from the day that all documentation on the decision is received from the AZS to decide whether to rescind the temporary suspension or pursue the case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

In March Javornik won the Treviso Marathon in 2:28:36 to earn her Beijing Olympic qualifier and remains on the Slovenian Olympic Committee’s provisional team roster.


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