Australian Olympic and Commonwealth Games hero Peter Bol is not fully free from his anti-doping case - a point highlighted by fellow runner Matt Shirvington. Shirvington said on Tuesday night that Bol's clean 'B' sample was 'quite significant', but added that he 'wasn't out of the woods yet'.
Bol was provisionally suspended by Sports Integrity Australia (SIA) in January after an out-of-competition test sample recorded a positive result for EPO, a performance enhancing substance. But he announced publicly on Tuesday that his 'B' sample had come back clean, enabling him to return to competition.
However the process for his return isn't quite so simple, with SIA saying in a statement that Bol's second sample was an 'atypical finding (ATF) for recombinant EPO'. The agency said this would require them to get a second opinion from a WADA-accredited laboratory, and that the ATF was not a negative result - and as such, the investigation remained ongoing.
Shirvington told 7News that although Bol had some ways to go before definitively proving his innocence, the mere fact there had been a variation in result from his 'A' sample to the 'B' sample was compelling. "It very, very rarely happens," Shirvington said.
"Based on previous evidence from other athletes in the past, it comes back about 0.02 per cent of the time different between the A and B. That’s in his favour, but he’s not quite out of the woods yet.
“He’s always said he is innocent … He’s not quite there yet, he will go to every length and he already has. He’s spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal advice, getting information of those samples back to him.
"Also, he was due to have a lie detector test tomorrow at the cost of $2000 just to build his case that he was absolutely innocent. He will continue that fight and hopefully for sport-loving Australians he will be cleared and for those that watch the Olympics in Tokyo 2021 – we got so much out of seeing Peter Bol run and that is the best result if he can be cleared here and we see him back on the track again very soon.”
Peter Bol's lawyer erupts over leak of test result
While Bol had the happy opportunity to announce positive news regarding his case on Tuesday, it was not so when his positive test was initially recorded. Details of his 'A' sample were leaked to the media, with Bol's lawyer Paul Greene fiercely critical of the doping investigation.
“The fact that they announced this is a disgrace. The fact that they didn’t keep this confidential, he was never charged … he was never shown a lab document. He was told he was positive and then it was announced,” he said.
“They (SIA) should be embarrassed about the way this case was handled. You should not announce it until after someone has been charged because you have to have an A and a B sample to be sure charging wise.
“It’s a really poor process and in my opinion, they (sport integrity) need to review it. If he was an American athlete, no one would have ever known about this.
“Who’s going to suffer as a result? No one at Sport Integrity Australia or Athletics Australia are going to suffer from this ... Pete’s the only one that is going to suffer from this.”
Meanwhile, Shirvington was concerned that the saga would disrupt Bol's preparations for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Bol has already missed the first of the major track and field meets this year.
“Who knows what he’s missed out on. He’s not going to compete in the Australian summer athletics season. What sort of preparation that gives him leading into the 2024 Paris Olympics we don’t know,” Shirvington said.
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