Athletics: Adams seeks ban answers

By Michael Brown

Valerie Adams is concerned that Nadzeya Ostapchuk could be free from drug testing during her ban. Photo / AP
Valerie Adams is concerned that Nadzeya Ostapchuk could be free from drug testing during her ban. Photo / AP

Valerie Adams' camp will seek answers from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Association of Athletics Federations about what testing Belarussian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk will be subjected to for the remainder of her drugs ban.

Ostapchuk was handed a four-year ban for two failed drugs tests, the maximum punishment in the circumstances, which will expire midway through the 2016 Olympics. It will preclude her competing in Rio because she won't be able to qualify.

Team Adams are concerned that Ostapchuk could follow a drugs regime free from testing during her ban.

Adams, who leaves for her training base in Switzerland today, is tested about 15 times a year and must alert drug testers of her whereabouts for one hour every day. It's believed Ostapchuk would need to be available for testing six months before the end of her ban if she chose to return to competition.

"We have established we can't ban her for more than four years but what steps are Wada and the IAAF taking to prevent exactly the same situation happening with exactly the same athlete?" Adams' manager Nick Cowan said.

"She could go into hiding in her own country and have the ability to take drugs because they can't get there to test her.

"On the surface, it looks like she could do that for the next 18 months, come off the drugs, compete the week after Rio and break the world record. I don't think that would be good for anyone involved and I'm going to start the process of trying to get some answers around that.

"Is she going to be on a testing regime? Is she going to be on a whereabouts programme? If not, why not?"

Cowan will approach Athletics New Zealand and Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Graeme Steel and petition them to voice their concerns.

"We have good relationships with the governing organisations in this country and I intend to work with them," Cowan said.

There are concerns in the wider athletics community about the robustness of the Belarussian drug testing programme.

Adams' coach Jean-Pierre Egger famously questioned Ostapchuk's rapid progress in the leadup to London, especially given her lack of activity on the competition circuit, with his loaded "prefer to keep silent" statement on the night Ostapchuk won gold in London.

The chance to appeal against the length of Ostapchuk's ban has passed - this could have been done by only Wada, the IAAF and the Belarus athletics federation - and Wada boss David Howman said they dismissed the idea because the ban was consistent with guidelines.

Ostapchuk will be 35 when her ban expires in 2016 and it's questionable how competitive she will be if she returns to competition.

"I don't see her as a threat at all if she's subject to normal athlete testing regimes," Cowan said.

"This has no impact on our planning in the next five years but, because of what has happened in the past, that raises concerns."

- APNZ

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