Sport Integrity Australia has said it is still investigating Australian Olympian Peter Bol despite his provisional suspension for doping being lifted.
- Australian athlete Peter Bol can return to training and competing, effective immediately
- Bol was provisionally suspended in January after assessment of a urine sample taken last October
- Sport Integrity Australia says the B-sample returned an “atypical finding”, which it says is not the same as a negative result
Bol said he was cleared of doping allegations after his B-sample did not match his A-sample.
Bol — who finished fourth in the 800 metres at the Tokyo Olympics — returned a positive result for the banned substance EPO early this year.
His suspension — from a urine sample taken last October — was backdated to January 10, meaning he could not train or compete at any level.
But on Tuesday, Bol — who had previously declared his innocence — posted on social media, announcing the result.
“Last month I told everyone that I was innocent and asked that everyone in Australia believed me and let the process play out,” Bol wrote on Twitter.
“I was hopeful that the process would exonerate me. This morning, I am relieved to report that it did.”
Bol, who turns 29 later this month, had faced a potential career-ending ban if his ‘B’ sample had matched the ‘A’ sample.
Bol maintains innocence
In his statement the athlete expressed his appreciation for the support he had received, but frustration about his initial results being revealed.
“The last month has been nothing less than a nightmare. I wish the results of my A Sample had not been leaked, but there is nothing I can do about that,” he said.
“To say it one more time: I am innocent and have not taken this substance as I was accused. I have NEVER in my life purchased, researched, possessed, administered or used synthetic EPO or any other Prohibited Substance, and never will.”
Sports Integrity Australia later released a statement saying its doping investigation into Bol is still ongoing, despite the lifting of his drug suspension.
SIA said the suspension was lifted after Bol’s B Sample produced an “atypical finding”.
The authority said it is still investigating whether any anti-doping rule violations have been committed, saying it could not put a time frame on those deliberations.
It said an atypical finding “is not the same as a negative test result”.
Bol’s lawyer, Paul Greene, told ABC Radio Perth the way in which the tests results were handled was “unbelievable”.
“The sun is shining for Peter Bol now. I told everyone he was innocent, and I turned out to be right,” Mr Greene said.
“He had never taken this. There was something wrong with this test. And the fact that it was announced is a disgrace.
“He was never shown a lab document. He was told he was positive, it was announced and then … the B [sample] didn’t confirm the A.
“It’s unbelievable what happened. They should be embarrassed, the way this case was handled.”
Celebrated Australian athletics coach Dick Telford, who has worked closely with Bol, had previously said the psychological stress was already taking a toll.
Telford had warned that Bol would have no chance of running well in next year’s Paris Olympics if the case was “hanging over his head for months to come”.
Julian Rinaldi, who has coached Bol for the past eight years, said the Olympian would return to training immediately.
“When he called me this morning … to let me know the news it was a relief,” Rinaldi told ABC Sport.
“The next thing I said to him is, ‘See you at training on Thursday.’
“So, the coaching instinct kicks straight in because I know we’ve had four weeks of no training, and I know what Peter’s goals are — to make the World Championships this year and go to Paris next year.
Minister says Bol ‘exonerated’
WA’s Sports Minister David Templeman said it was “fantastic news” for Bol.
“I think all of Western Australia was deeply saddened when the announcement was made about the test, but he’s been exonerated now,” he said.
“I’m sure there’s going to be lots of questions asked about the process, and this young man has been on tenterhooks now for a number of months while the outcome of the second test was waiting to be released.”
Mr Templeman said Bol was a great role model in the community.
“He’s a great example of our multicultural community, and what it means for a person to come across to another country with his family from quite traumatic experiences originally and make a great life and contribution to his new country,” he said.