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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

More information needed in Bol saga; Shirvington

Former Australian sprinter Matt Shirvington is relieved for fellow Olympian Peter Bol, who has been allowed to return to training and competition after the lifting of a provisional drugs suspension.

Athletics Australia made the bombshell announcement last month that Bol had been provisionally suspended after returning an positive result for the banned substance EPO, but Sport Integrity Australia announced on Tuesday that Bol’s B sample had only returned an atypical result, meaning the suspension will be lifted while the process carried on.

Shirvington said he suspected that Bol’s test results had been on the borderline.

“I guess there’s two sides to this, isn’t there. There’s the allowance for him to train and compete, which is a big thing, but as Sport Integrity Australia have said in their statement, the investigation continues,” Shirvington told Sports Breakfast.

“It is so, so rare to get a mismatch result between the A and B samples. In actual fact, it’s around about 0.2 percent of tests that are done come back not matching, so there’s a little bit of investigation to continue before he is completely cleared.

“It’s good news for Pete, and I think for most people, the integrity of his reputation and what we’ve seen from him is paramount, so hopefully he can get through this and get back to competition, which is what we all want to see.”

Bol and his team have vocally proclaimed his innocence from the outset of the saga, with his lawyer Paul Greene calling the process a “disgrace” after the B sample result was announced.

Shirvington said he was staunchly anti-doping throughout his career, but the proper function of the systems was critical.

“It’s a hard one. The other thing he referred to in his statement was the leaking of that A sample result and how disappointed he was that that came out, and that was unfair … he deserved due process, I know there were unmitigated circumstances surrounding it, no one really knows why it was leaked or how it was leaked, but he probably should’ve been allowed that process,” he said.

“I believe that if he’s fully cleared, I don’t think it will damage his reputation, definitely not amongst the [local] athletics community. I think they understand who he is as a person and they have been staunch from the beginning that he does not take performance-enhancing drugs.

“In terms of the international community, it’s hard to know. The one thing we do know is that he’s been distracted from his preparation over the national domestic season this summer, so very unlikely that we see Pete compete locally this summer.”

With the Paris Olympics coming up next year, Shirvington said the 28 year old was still only scratching the surface of his potential.

“He was one of the highest rating [athletes] on Channel Seven’s Olympic broadcast in Tokyo, three and a half million Australians watched his 800 metre final where he finished fourth. There is no doubt he represents a cross-section of Australian society, an emerging demographic in Australia,” he said.

“He has a passion for it, we know that his family in WA are so supportive and we saw some of that, we got a taste of that during the Olympics.

“The hope is that this hasn’t stalled his progression. I get the feeling that it may even motivate them, to be honest, it may get them fired up to get Pete back on track as soon as possible, and who knows what happens in Paris.”

Sports Integrity Australia said in their statement that a timeline could not be put on when the investigation into Bol would reach a resolution.

IMAGE: Sky News.


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