Lombard's Olympic race could be run


Distance runner Cathal Lombard is expected to give a formal response to the Athletics Association of Ireland on Tuesday after testing positive for the banned blood-boosting drug EPO.

The Irish Sports Council discovered a positive test for the Cork athlete, who faces a potential two-year ban if found guilty.

The AAI have been in touch with 28-year-old Lombard, according to RTE News.

Lombard, who has qualified to run over 10,000 and 5,000 metres for Ireland in Athens, claimed he knew "nothing about it" when contacted by the Sunday Independent last night and that he had not been notified of a doping infringement by the AAI.

Lombard was hailed as a hero in athletics circles after he broke the Irish record for the 10,000m in California at the beginning of May.

Even if he is found not guilty of the offence, it is now increasingly unlikely that Lombard will participate in the Games.

The process could be drawn out if the athlete decides his second urine sample should be examined.  In that case, he would be entitled to be represented at the opening ceremony of the Games or to attend himself.

In Cork former Sports Minister Bernard Allen warned that if the tests proved positive, the athlete would have no option but to withdraw immediately from the Olympic squad.

"While this athlete obviously deserves every opportunity to defend himself, if this sample is proven to be correct than there can be no other option but to withdraw from the Olympic squad in Athens."