Ian MacNicol Steven Colvert (file pic).

'I have never doped so to be there at all was shocking to me'

Irish athlete Steven Colvert continues to claim he is innocent despite a positive EPO test in 2014.

IRISH SPRINTER STEVEN Colvert maintained his innocence last night after a new report questioned the testing methods that ultimately led to his two-year doping ban from athletics.

A World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Cologne, Germany in June 2014 claimed Colvert had been injected with synthetic erythropoietin (EPO), a banned drug used by athletes to boost endurance and therefore gain an unfair advantage over their opponents.

However, a recently released study in the medical journal Lab Times by a group of Norwegian researchers, whom the athlete had originally contacted and asked to review the evidence, suggested that there were flaws in the testing. In addition, an article in American publication Newsweek written by Roger Pielke Jr entitled ‘Why an Irish sprinter serving a doping ban deserves a new hearing’ supported the Norwegians’ claims.

Meanwhile, speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball last night, Colvert protested his innocence, as he has done consistently for the past two years.

“(The testing) was botched to such an extent that they’re actually showing EPO when there was none,” he said.

“I have never doped so to be there at all was shocking to me.

If you look at the files, there were numerous other samples, some higher than mine, over this blue line, some lower than mine. But mine was the only one that was determined to have EPO. The rest were all clean.

“Mine was lower than some of them and higher than some of them, but it was pretty much on average with the rest and the specialist came out and said this one was positive. But across the board, if you look at it, if my one was positive, they all should have been positive.”

Colvert narrowly missed out on representing Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics and said he was “in good shape” at the time of his positive test.

He continued: “It’s bad science. It’s no fault on my behalf. I’m still at a loss. As you can see, we have Pielke  and the Norwegians working to try to make some sense of it, but I don’t think we’re ever going to truly know (why it happened).”

Despite the 26-year-old Mullingar native requesting that his sample be stored, it was ultimately destroyed, and Colvert said he was contemplating taking a case as a result.

I think that kind of eliminates the question of ‘can we just open the bottles again and re-test’ because they’ve been destroyed,” he added

“I’ve no clue (why they were destroyed).”

He attended a hearing last year in a bid to clear his name, but Colvert’s argument that the testing “should not be based on subjective opinion” was ultimately dismissed.

An appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport remains a possibility, but Colvert acknowledges that there will always be skeptics in relation to his case no matter what happens.

“I know I’m forever tarnished with it, especially in the modern age with the internet and stuff like that. It’s something you’ll never get away from.

If I ever approach an employer, all they need to do is a quick search and there it is, and there’s the back and forth. It’s hugely damaging. I understand where people come from when they’re skeptical. It’s human nature and I just have to accept that.”

With his ban having expired in June, Colvert is now free to compete again. Having been reluctant to return initially, he is now back training on a part-time basis.

However, the former Irish 200m champion intends to continue to contest the claims “purely to clear my name”.

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Listen to the full Off the Ball interview here>

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