While an athlete claiming EPO use as therapy for malaria is unprecedented, here is a case where an athlete claimed malaria caused the suspicious fluctuations in her Biopassport.
Turkish athlete Alemitu Bekele was banned for 4 years on a biopassport violation. She gave suspicious three samples in competition between August 2009 and july 2010, then someone tipped off Turkish Athletics. She was put on the registered testing pool, and tested OOC in July, IC in August in Daegu, and OOC in November
Sample; HGB; RET
Sample 1: 15.1 0.67
Sample 2: 17.1 0.67
Sample 3: 17.1 0.17
Sample 4: 13.4 1.72
Sample 5: 14.1 1.65
Sample 6: 13.0 1.56
Ms Bekele was invited to provide an explanation for her abnormal profile, which she did through her national federation. Initially, on 23 February 2012 she put forward a somewhat skimpy "home made" response. On 1 March 2012, however, she withdrew that explanation and submitted a new, more considered response which in essence explained her elevated HGB by reference to a combination of factors including (1) the inhalation of pure oxygen under hyperbaric conditions; (2) training at altitude and in hot and humid conditions; and (3) various food supplements. This explanation was considered but rejected by the Expert Panel and she was then charged with a breach of Rule 32.2(b) by a letter dated 3 April 2012
She then appealed:
These were in summary as follows: (1) vaginal bleeding following the abortion of twins on 21 May 2009; (2) food poisoning and gastrointestinal infection from 2 to 11 September 2009; (3) lung pathology resulting from underwater training with pure oxygen from 8 March 2010 to 25 September 2010; (4) hyperthyroidism on 16 April 2010; and (5) severe malaria from 21 May 2011 to 10 November 2011.
Shotgun strategy of defense, with a ton of different excuses. Here is CAS's reaction to the malaria defense:
They confirmed that none of the potential explanations advanced by Ms Bekele (including her assertion that she had suffered two severe bouts of malaria in May and November 2011 respectively) accounted for the abnormal profile. The results in Samples 2 and 3 indicated a cessation of doping somewhere between one and three weeks before the respective events so as to avoid the danger of detection from a conventional doping test. They were 100% sure the tests did not show a false positive.
And just a final note
She had abandoned her appeal against the finding of the Penal Board because she did not have the finance to counter the expert evidence which the IAAF proposed to call at the hearing, in particular in regard to the question of malaria. In these circumstances, she had taken the difficult decision to pursue her appeal only against the four-year ban which had been imposed on her.
The CAS were pretty adamant about that defense though:
She had only abandoned her final defence that the readings in her ABP were due to malaria about a week before the hearing in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that the defence was bogus. A four-year ban was fully justified.
So, different from the OP about EPO treatment for Malaria. I wish there were more details on exactly how the IAAF witnesses Prof Schumacher and Prof D'Onofrio argued that Malaria was bogus. I want to know more about the possibility or impossibility of a ABP panel review seeing some abnormalities as a consequence of Malaria in isolation.
you have no idea.