Colvert ’A’ sample tests positive for EPO

The Irish sprinter has declared his innocence and has requested the ’B’ sample be tested

Ireland’s Stephen Colvert has tested positive for EPO and has requested that his ’B’ sample be analysed. Photograph REUTERS/Max Rossi

Ireland’s Stephen Colvert has tested positive for EPO and has requested that his ’B’ sample be analysed. Photograph REUTERS/Max Rossi

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 12:13

Athletics Ireland has another doping case on its hands after confirmation this morning that sprinter Steven Colvert has tested positive for EPO.

Colvert has already come out declaring his innocence, and has requested the immediate testing of the B-sample, but in the meantime Athletics Ireland have confirmed his withdrawal from this weekend’s European Team Championships in Tallinn, Estonia - where he was set to represent Ireland in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

Testing positive for EPO - the blood-boosting hormone erythropoietin - is somewhat unusual for a sprinter, as its main advantages are in increasing endurance. However, Athletics Ireland have been informed of Colvert’s “adverse analytical finding” for the substance “recombinant erythropoietin” following an out-of-competition test carried out in Dublin on May 20th.

With that Colvert is facing a two-year ban from competition, unless in the extremely rare instance of his B-sample showing up something different. For Colvert - a third-year law student at DCU - the task of proving his innocence will not be easy, even if he’s already offered full disclosure of his supplement use and indeed financial records.

Colvert, a Mullingar native, is the reigning Irish 200 metres champion, and has emerged as one of the most exciting Irish sprint prospects of recent years. He now runs with the Crusaders club in Dublin, and recently switched coaches to John Shields, and had narrowly missed out on representing Ireland at the London Olympics two years ago, when he missed the A-standard for the 200m by just .02 of a second, running 20.57 seconds.

His best so far this season is 20.90, but he’s highly unlikely to be racing again this summer as his effort to clear his name begins. Colvert was informed of the positive finding on Tuesday, and has informed Athletics Ireland that while he doesn’t normally take supplements, he did purchase a generic multivitamin on the morning of the test in question, as he was in the middle of exams at DCU. He has also admitted to taking an iron supplement, which he also purchased over the counter in a pharmacy.

Irish distance runner Martin Fagan has just returned from a two-year ban after testing positive for EPO in 2012, but he openly admitted to taking the substance. EPO is not particularly popular in sprinters, although disgraced US sports nutritionist Victor Conte claimed he regularly distributed EPO to sprinters Marian Jones and Tim Montgomery, both of whom were later banned after the infamous Balco scandal.

In the meantime, David Hynes will take Colvert’s place in the 100m, this weekend, and Marcus Lawler has been called up to take his place in the 200m.

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