Customs tip-off led to Lombard being caught
Cork athlete Cathal Lombard was caught taking performance enhancing drugs following a tip-off from Irish customs officials, it emerged today.
The Irish Sports Council said it had received information from the customs and the Irish Medicines Board about a delivery made to the 28-year-old middle distance runner.
We're pleased we've caught Cathal Lombard. He has won nothing of any significance and he didn't get to compete in the Olympic games
Irish Sports Council chief executive Mr John Treacy
Lombard was tested at a training camp on Switzerland at 7.30 a.m. on July 11th and the analysis of his urine sample showed traces of the banned substance EPO.
Irish Sports Council chief executive Mr John Treacy said this morning there was a two- to three-day window for testers to detect the use of EPO.
"To detect someone using EPO, you do have to be lucky. We knew leading into the games that the temptation to use EPO would rise and that's why we targeted this particular time."
Lombard has admitted ordering EPO, which is widely available from internet websites.
Mr Treacy said the athlete had been on the sports council's radar because of the significant improvements he made late in his career.
He ran a time of 27:33:53 in the 10,000 metres at Stanford University in the United States earlier this year, which was 13 seconds faster than the previous Irish record. It was also three minutes faster than his previous personal best.
"We've all but parked in his driveway - we tested him in Cork, in the United States, in Switzerland, so we were keeping a very keen eye on him. We carried out seven tests in the course of the year," Mr Treacy told RTÉ radio.
"We're pleased we've caught Cathal Lombard. He has won nothing of any significance and he didn't get to compete in the Olympic games."
Lombard returned last night to Cork Airport and was whisked away to his family home in the city. He has until 5.30 p.m. today to provide a written statement to the Athletics Association of Ireland about the positive test result.
The athlete, who openly admitted to taking EPO in a newspaper interview yesterday, faces an automatic two-year ban.
Mr Treacy said the remainder of Lombard's state funding for the year would be withdrawn, and that some might have to be paid back. "I think he was misguided. Someone using EPO on their own should know that a lot of cyclists have died using EPO and it's a very dangerous substance."