Athletics Australia President rues “uneven” treatment as another sprinter banned for breaking doping rules

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Athletics Australia

by Mike Rowbottom

March 26, 2014 (ISN) – David Grace President of Athletics Australia, has questioned the justice of varying punishments within world sport for failing to be present for doping tests following the announcement a third member of the Australian men’s sprint relay squad, Anthony Alozie, has incurred a sanction.

Alozie has been banned for 20 months for missing a drug test and breaching the “whereabouts” rule.

The 27-year-old Nigerian-born sprinter competed at the 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Daegu with Matt Davies, banned for two years in December after testing positive for a banned stimulant, and was in the team which reached the final at the London 2012 Olympics along with Josh Ross, recently lost a challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport on similar charges to the ones Alozie faced. 

All three men raced in the same team at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

Athletics Australia confirmed that Alozie was issued an infraction notice by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for two failures over the filing of his whereabouts.

The other breach was for missing a drug test.

“Negligence or carelessness is not the same as being a drug cheat,” said Grace, who highlighted the difference between the way athletes from Olympic sports were treated under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code with the way professional sports like Australian football were treated.

Last year Australian Football League side Western Bulldogs failed to properly lodge whereabouts documents for their players and the club was given a small fine.

No individual player was banned.

“This again highlights the uneven treatment under the AFL drug code and what allowed the Western Bulldogs to be fined rather than players being suspended,” Grace said.

“We could not waive the requirements even if we wanted to. It’s our obligation under the ASADA that our athletes are compliant. We have no leeway,” Grace said.

Anthony Alozie (left) with sprint relay team-mates Josh Ross (second left), Aaron Rouge-Serret (second right) and Matt Davies at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin ©Getty Images
Anthony Alozie (left) with sprint relay team-mates Josh Ross (second left), Aaron Rouge-Serret (second right) and Matt Davies at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin ©Getty Images

The 33-year-old Ross, an indigenous Australian, has won the national title six times and is the third-fastest Australian on record with a 100 metres best of 10.08sec. 

He will find out the length of his ban in May but knows it will be between 12 months and two years.

“They have been drug tested umpteen times each one of them, but in between each one of those tests they have missed a drug test or missed a whereabouts listing,” Grace said.

“There is nothing to suggest Ross, or Jarrod Bannister [a javelin thrower who was banned last year for missed drug tests] or Alozie are drug cheats.”

Athletes are required to advise their National Federations of one hour per day they will be in a certain location so that they can be available for drug testers. 

An athlete failing to properly lodge their whereabouts, or not being where they say they will be at a certain time and place, constitutes a breach.

Three whereabouts breaches or missed drug tests in an 18-month period – it will be cut to a 12-month period next year – are treated the same as having returned a positive result and an athlete is banned for between 12 months and two years.

In one of the highest profile cases, Britain’s 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu was suspended in 2006 for failing to be present for doping testers on three occasions. 

She returned the following year in Osaka to win the first of her two world titles.

Bannister was banned last year for missing three drug tests, despite one of those missed tests occurring when the hotel he was staying in under an Athletics Australia group booking did not know he was still staying there.

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