An Australian track and field athlete has tested posituve for the first time since 1996. So what does history suggest Peter Bol’s fate will be?

History is not on Peter Bol’s side.

The odds of the B-sample of his positive urine test to EPO coming back negative are slim. Unfortunately we all have to play the waiting game for the next month before the analysis is complete.

Bol has pleaded with Australia to believe him. And given what we know about the 800m champion, he has many credits in the bank given the impact he’s had on athletics in this country.

And it’s not just on the track where he captured the nation’s attention when he ran a gutsy fourth in the Tokyo Olympic final. His work in the community, inspiring kids from different backgrounds like his own to take up the sport has been enormous.

That’s why he was set to be named Young Australian of the Year next week after winning the Western Australian nomination. That won’t happen now.

Instead Bol may have another title, drug cheat. And if so it’s one which he’ll have to live with at least until the B-sample result comes through.

The problem with the positive involving EPO – which stimulates the production of red blood cells helping to transport more oxygen to muscles and therefore increase stamina and performance – is that it’s generally injected into the body.

In recent times a lot of these athlete positive cases have involved contaminated supplements which can be legitimately defended and often proven in favour of the athlete.

Australia has managed to keep itself clear of drug scandals in track and field compared to many other nations. Not since sprinter Dean Capobianco in 1996 have we had to deal with a high-profile case.

Capobianco tested positive for steroids just before the Atlanta Olympics. He immediately protested his innocence and was allowed to run in the Games on a stay of proceedings.

However, shortly after he was banned for four years which was later reduced to two years.

Capobianco also claimed his innocence. He blamed it on steak, saying it was because he’d eaten too much red meat before the drug test.

“I have irrefutable scientific evidence showing that the IAAF has known for years that athletes can test positive for some of their banned drugs simply by eating meat contaminated by the same drugs,” Capobianco said.

Still, the ban stayed.

There have been some creative excuses over the journey. Germany’s Olympic 5000m Dieter Baumann champion claimed he tested positive for nandrolone from contaminated toothpaste.

American sprinter Dennis Mitchell said a positive drug test for high levels of testosterone was the result of having sex and drinking beer the night before the doping control.

Bol, 28, has proven over the past two years that he is one of the best 800m runners on the planet. His fourth at the Olympics was followed up by a silver medal at last year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

He has been tested dozens of times during that career-breakthrough period and always comes back negative.

Shocked is how he described his reaction when Sport Integrity Australia came knocking with the positive which he has no idea where or how it happened.

He has no excuse at the moment. The hope is that it’s a false-positive which has happened before. Unfortunately for Australia’s most high-profile runner, the odds aren’t in his favour.

Originally published as Peter Bol positive drug test analysis: Australian in tough fight to be proven innocent

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