Belgian runner missed just one test – not three as previously reported
Atelaw Bekele, last year’s European cross-country champion, has been cleared of doping charges but, contrary to some reports, his trial was connected to just one missed test – not three.
The Flemish anti-doping agency in Belgium declared the distance runner had not been willfully neglectful in missing an out-of-competition test earlier this year and he escaped a sanction of up to two years.
The defence for the Ethiopian-born Belgian argued that his missed test on February 8, 2012, was due to him changing his hotel plans at the last minute and not updating his “whereabouts” information.
While training in Ethiopia, he deemed his planned hotel too expensive on arrival and decided to stay in a nearby hotel. As a result of this, he was not found when doping officials turned up at the premises he had indicated.
Despite assumptions that he had missed three-out-competition tests within an 18-month period, which would have led to an automatic suspension, the Flemish athletics federation and Bekele’s lawyer confirmed he had missed only one test.
Rule 2.3 of the World Anti-Doping Code offers scope for an athlete to be found guilty of a doping offence by missing just one test if he or she is considered to have shown “intentional or negligent conduct”.
Bekele had been a surprise winner of the European Cross in Slovenia in 2011, but on defending his title in Budapest last month – perhaps feeling the pressure of the allegations – he was only 58th.