"I have never doped" - Steven Colvert explains why he maintains his innocence regarding his positive EPO test

Off The Ball speak to the Irish athlete banned for two years in 2014 and Professor Roger Pelkie Jr

BY Raf Diallo 21:29 Thursday 13 October 2016, 21:29 13 Oct 2016

Ireland's Steven Colvert ©INPHO/Ian MacNicol

This week, a Newsweek article by Roger Pelkie Jr was published with the title 'Why an Irish sprinter serving a doping ban deserves a new hearing'.

The piece relates to Irish 200 metre sprinter Steven Colvert who says that scientific analysis of his urine samples have raised concerns about his doping suspension.

He received a two year ban in 2014 after testing positive for EPO but continues to maintain his innocence.

Sport Ireland say that they don't intend to re-open the case, citing that testing was carried out according to World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) standards.

Tonight on Off The Ball, political scientist and professor at the University of Colorado Roger Pielke JR discussed the case and his article, before Colvert joined Ger Gilroy in studio to share his side of the story.

Pielke says, "The motivation for my article was a new research article published in a journal called Lab Times by four Norwegian professors who took a close look at Steven Colvert's case and they found some real troubling issues with the science as it was presented for his sanction.

"It's not particularly complex. There are two straight-forward issues that anyone can understand. Number one, the first indicator that he doped was based on a WADA expert subjective judgement, meaning that it was his opinion. But that opinion was countered by the Norwegian scientist. The second issue was that the two different tests that were applied to the urine sample came up with very different results. They weren't consistent with one another and the Norwegian authors asserted - and I agree - that that should have been clarified before any sanction was put down."

Going into more detail into the two samples, Pielke suggests different results emerged.

Steven Colvert competes in the 200m ©INPHO/Ian MacNicol

"There were two tests that are relevant here. One is the first test which indicated a small amount of synthetic EPO, which was highlighted in the hearing and by the Irish Sports Council suggesting maybe he micro-dosed. The second test that was applied suggested that he had vastly more synthetic EPO in his system. So it can be either a small amount or it can be a large amount. But it can't be both at the same time."   

As for athlete at the centre of the case regarding the presence of EPO in the tested samples, Colvert himself told Off The Ball that from: "From my understanding of it is that it was botched to such an extent that they're actually showing EPO when there was none because I have never doped. So to be even there at all was shocking for me."

He says it was an out-of-competition test after an academic exam at university.

From his point of view, Colvert describes what happened as "bad science" and "no fault on my behalf". 

He also described the lab in Cologne as looking "no different than a university laboratory", although he adds that it doesn't mean that has anything to do with the quality of the testing or the scientists.

"I was quite taken aback. At the time I had requested that all my samples be stored and I would pay for the cost. I was told at the lab in Cologne, that it was part of their procedure, if there is a positive test it's kept and they'll use it for students. But the sample has since been destroyed, both bloods and urine. Now, I had made requests several times that they be kept and they're all gone so I think that eliminates the whole question of 'can we just open the bottles again and re-test' because they've been destroyed."

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