Athletics: Don banned for missing three tests

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The Independent Online

Tim Don, who won the world triathlon title for Britain last month, has been suspended for three months for missing three out-of-competition drug tests.

The 28-year-old son of the former leading referee Philip Don does not intend to appeal against the sanction imposed by the British Triathlon Association - which was the minimum possible under World Anti Doping Agency rules - but will contest the automatic Olympic ban imposed on all athletes contravening doping regulations through a British Olympic Association bylaw.

Don is the fourth leading British competitor to fall foul of the ruling established through Wada in July last year whereby sportsmen and women have to nominate one hour in five out of seven days when they will be available at a named location for random testing.

Christine Ohuruogu, the Commonwealth 400 metres champion, said on Monday that she would appeal against the one-year ban imposed on her last month, and she will also contest the BOA ruling. Peter Cousins, a judo player, is currently appealing to the BOA against his Olympic ban following a three-month sanction imposed upon him in January, and both Ohuruogu and Don will be watching his case - due to be settled before Christmas - with interest. The powerlifter Gillian Wright received a six-month ban in July.

The British Triathlon Association and an independent disciplinary tribunal, chaired by the solicitor Peter Crystal, attributed Don's "unintentional" anti-doping violation to "a combination of forgetfulness on the athlete's behalf and his lack of understanding of the new testing system."

Don's punishment, which became effective on 27 September, the date of the hearing, was the least that could be imposed under Wada's guideline "model" rules which recommend between three and six months for a first offence of this kind.

In a statement, Don said: "I have never taken, or even considered taking, a performance-enhancing drug in my life, and I am absolutely devastated to receive a suspension for contravening anti-doping regulations.

"I fully understand that it is my responsibility as a professional athlete to log my whereabouts on the UK Sport system and accept that it is due to my forgetfulness and lack of understanding of the online system following its launch last year that I have received this ban.

"However, I am a clean athlete who has been tested for drugs on nine separate occasions this year with no adverse findings, and the tribunal and British Triathlon acknowledge there is no way I was deliberately trying to miss a test."

Andy Parkinson, UK Sport's head of operations for drug-free sport, said that since the high-profile emergence of the Ohuruogu case on the eve of the European Championships in August, there had been a "huge increase" in the number of competitors updating their whereabouts information, resulting in a 50 per cent reduction in the number of missed tests. UK Sport confirmthere are currently no other British sportsmen or sportswomen who have missed three tests.

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