Bob Ramsak reports that the Slovenian Federation upheld their superstar Jolanda Ceplak's two-year doping ban. This is a huge decision. It also shows that, more and more, the Federations are seeing the hard stance that must be taken to save the sport.
SLOVENIAN FEDERATION UPHOLDS CEPLAK DOPING BAN
By Bob Ramsak
(c) TRACK PROFILE Report 2008, all rights reserved
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – The Slovenian Athletics Federation (AZS) has upheld a two-year doping ban for Olympic 800m bronze medalist Jolanda Ceplak.
“It was a difficult decision to reach, but we have concluded that Jolanda Ceplak is guilty,” said Slavko Cerne, the president of the federation’s Disciplinary Commission after a seven-hour session that didn’t conclude until after midnight Thursday.
The 31-year-old Ceplak, the world indoor record holder in the 800m, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO at an out-of-competition test in Monte Carlo on June 18, 2007. The B sample test confirmed the A sample finding, resulting in a provisional suspension by the sport’s international governing body, the IAAF, on July 26, 2007.
Citing illness, Ceplak was not present at the hearing, which was held behind closed doors due to “the personal and sensitive nature of some of topics” being discussed. Cerne stressed that the hearing could have been rescheduled in order for Ceplak to attend, but her attorney declined making that request.
The news of her doping charge and subsequent suspension last July shocked this tiny alpine nation of 2 million, where Ceplak was among the most popular and well-known female athletes.
In addition to er Olympic bronze from 2004, Ceplak has collected gold, silver and bronze medals at European Championships indoors, as well as continental gold outdoors in 2002.
Ceplak, who has recently stated that she would like to continue her career, now has eight days to appeal the ruling to the AZS, and also has the option of taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
[NOTE: Attached photo: Ceplak with double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes, at Ceplak’s birthday party in Celje, Slovenia, 13-Sept-2006. Photo by Bob Ramsak/TRACK PROFILE Report]
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