Marathon champ loses doping appeal

European women's marathon champion Zivile Balciunaite loses Olympic spot after failing to challenge two-year ban.

    Balciunaite lost her challenge to the Court of Arbitration for Sport despite claiming her positive result came through prescribed medication [EPA]

    Lithuania's disgraced European women's marathon champion, Zivile Balciunaite, has lost a legal challenge to her two-year ban for doping that has sidelined her for the London Olympics.

    The Lithuanian Athletics Federation said on Monday that the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport had dismissed Balciunaite's appeal against its ban.

    "The Lithuanian Athletics Federation's decision of April 5, 2011 has been confirmed," it said in a statement.

    It said the ban would be in force until September 6, less than a month after the Olympics are over.

    Backdated ban

    That expiry date is linked to the federation's provisional suspension of Balciunaite, announced in October 2010, which was later transformed into a two-year, backdated ban, and confirmed in April 2011.

    Balciunaite's defence team declined to comment on the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision pending details of the ruling.

    "It is clear that the decision is negative, but we still need to analyse the justification before making a comment," her lawyer, Aivaras Zilvinskas, told AFP on Monday.

    The federation imposed a ban after Balciunaite's urine sample - taken after her European title win in Barcelona in July 2010 - revealed abnormal levels in the ratio between the male sex hormone testosterone and epitestosterone.

    Both testosterone and epitestosterone occur naturally in women but an increased level of testosterone can indicate it has been administered artificially.

    Balciunaite, who turns 33 on Tuesday, denied the doping allegations and claimed the results could be explained by her use of Duphaston, a drug prescribed by her gynaecologist.

    Balciunaite had told Lithuanian media as recently as February that she expected to win her appeal and was preparing for the Olympics, saying that she had been training since disqualification.

    SOURCE: AFP


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