Hendricken has two-year doping ban confirmed

IRISH middle distance runner Geraldine Hendricken has been banned from competition for two years, following confirmation last night that she tested positive for banned substances.

Athletics Ireland confirmed the ban last night and in a statement said that on February 10 last, an out-of-competition dope test was conducted on Hendricken, one of the its athletes.

“The sample provided was tested in the IOC-accredited laboratory in Kings College, London. The Laboratory reported that the sample contained 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of a banned substance.

“Ms Hendricken was provisionally suspended pending the outcome of an investigation and hearing. The athlete requested testing of the 'B' sample. The 'B' analysis confirmed the finding of the 'A' sample.”

Apparently, the athlete requested that dietary supplements, which she claimed were part of her diet be analysed.

Athletics Ireland commissioned the German Sports Institute in Cologne to conduct an analysis of these supplements and that lab subsequently reported the supplements contained an anabolic androgenic steroid, which could if taken, lead to a positive test for norandrosterone.

The athlete requested an oral hearing and a disciplinary committee sat on September 4 to hear the case. The committee consisted of Mel Christle SC (Chair), Jack Watson and Brendan Buckley. Athletics Ireland and the athlete were legally represented.

Last night, however, Athletics Ireland said that having considered the reports and heard the evidence the committee concluded that a doping offence had occurred within the rules and recommended that a two-year suspension be imposed.

“The executive committee of Athletics Ireland met on September 20 and imposed the suspension from March 7, 2003 up to the next Congress to be held April 24, 2004. The executive will also bring a motion to Congress to confirm the suspension of the athlete up to March 6, 2005.

“In the course of the proceedings it emerged that Ms Hendricken ingested supplements, which were not labelled as containing a banned substance and which she did not know to be contaminated.

"However all athletes must be aware that they are responsible for any banned substances found in their bodies and must exercise great caution before taking any dietary supplement.”

At 32, Hendricken’s athletics career is effectively over.

The Carlow teacher denied knowingly taking banned substances but as Athletics Ireland pointed out, the responsibility is on individual athletes to ensure whatever dietary supplements they take are ‘clean.’

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