Peter Bol at centre of 'extremely concerning' doping scandal

Olympics and Commonwealth Games hero Peter Bol maintains his innocence after recording a positive test for a performance enhancing substance.

Peter Bol drapes the Australian Flag over his shoulders after winning silver in the 800m at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Peter Bol has returned a positive A sample for a performance enhancing substance and has been provisionally suspended. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Olympic and Commonwealth Games hero Peter Bol has returned a positive sample from an out of competition drug test conducted late last year. The 28-year-old holds the Australian record for the 800m dash, and has maintained his innocence to investigators.

The news comes as a shock to the track and field community, who Bol became a hero among thanks to his sensational efforts at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as well as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year. Bol surge to a fourth-place finish in Tokyo, followed by by a silver medal in Birmingham endeared him to the public.

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Bol reportedly returned a positive 'A' sample to the performance enhancing drug erythropoietin, more commonly known as EPO. The results of the B sample test are yet to come.

In a statement posted on social media, Bol was adamant that he had not consumed the substance, and vowing to fight his ban. He was provisionally suspended by Sport Integrity Australia.

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“It is critically important to convey with the strongest conviction that I am innocent and have not taken this substance as I am accused," Bol wrote. "I ask everyone in Australia, believe me and let the process play out. When I found out last week that they A sample from a urine test taken on 11 October had tested positive for synthetic EPO I was in total shock.

“To be clear I have NEVER in my life purchased, researched, possessed, administered or used synthetic EPO or any other Prohibited Substance. I voluntarily turned over my laptop, iPad and phone to Sport Integrity Australia to prove this.

“I have requested the analysis of my B sample which will take place in February. Given the subjective nature of interpreting this kind of test, I have asked that the lab perform a secondary confirmation.

“Above all, I remain hopeful that the process will exonerate me. My career, hopes and dreams are literally hanging in the balance over these next few weeks and I ask everyone to respect my privacy as I remain provisionally suspended.”

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Athletics Australia respond after Peter Bol fails drug test

Under his provisional suspension, Bol will be barred from training or coaching at a club, state, or national level, nor can he receive any official funding. Athletics Australia CEO Peter Bromley said the failed test was a major concern.

“There are procedural fairness and investigative consideration that constrain how much we can say, and at this point it would be inappropriate for Athletics Australia or anyone else to speculate about the specific details or pre-empt any outcome," he said. "However what we can say is that learning about this adverse analytical finding was both extremely concerning and completely out of the blue, and we will support Sport Integrity Australia who are leading the investigation into the matter.

“Our primary consideration right now is that the appropriate process is followed and that it is not undermined by inappropriate speculation. The welfare of our athletes remains critical through this process, and we will continue to do all that is appropriate to ensure both Peter and other athletes, coaches and support staff are provided with the necessary support.”

Peter Bol looks on before the final of the 800m dash at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.
Peter Bol set a new Australian record in the 800m dash at the World Athletics Championships in 2022. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for World Athletics)

In addition to Bol voluntarily surrendering all devices, his coach and manager have also made similar offers to anti-doping officials. Bol is among the nominees for Young Australian of the Year, having won the state-based award in Western Australia.

Born in Sudan, Bol and his family emigrated to Egypt before eventually arriving in Australia and setting in Perth after gaining humanitarian status through the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He began doing long-distance running after realising it suited him better than basketball at the age of 16.

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He would make his Olympic debut for Australia at the 2016 Games in Rio, but injuries would severely limit him throughout 2017 and 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic offered Bol a chance to dedicate an extended amount of time to training and conditioning, which paid off in his blistering performance in Tokyo.

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