SPORTS

Spanish athletics federation acquits Marta Domínguez in doping probe

International body plans to take case against the champion to Court of Arbitration for Sports

Domínguez, with the president of the federation, José Mª Odriozola. / M. M. (AS)

Marta Domínguez has been acquitted by the Spanish athletics federation, the Real Federación Española de Atletismo (REFA), after analyzing claims of a suspicious variance in her biological passport, the sports daily Marca reports.

The REFA’s disciplinary committee found that the one anomalous parameter in her bio-passport coincided with the period when the steeplechase champion was pregnant, and did not represent conclusive evidence of doping.

The investigation was originally opened by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which will still take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (TAS), despite the Spanish federation’s decision to exonerate the runner.

If she has passed all controls until now,
let us trust her”

The IAAF considers that Domínguez — who has also been a senator for the ruling center-right Popular Party since 2011 — should be stripped of her gold medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin as well as her silver at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona.

The Spanish Anti-Doping Agency has no control over this case, as the proceedings were initiated by an international organization.

José María Odriozola, president of REFA, has reiterated his support for Domínguez on several occasions, while Alejandro Blanco, head of the Spanish Olympic Committee, considers that “she continues to be the Spanish athlete par excellence,” and says that she should be considered a clean sportswoman as long as there is no conclusive evidence to the contrary.

“If she has passed 50,000 tests without any trouble and there is one anomalous parameter in her biological passport, it is worth asking whether the bio-passport is reliable. If she has passed all controls until now, let us trust her,” added Blanco.

This is not the first time that the Spanish athletics federation has acquitted a member under scrutiny for doping. In March 2011, the governing body decided there was not enough evidence against Alemayehu Bezabeh, a cross-country runner of Ethiopian origin. Yet three months later the state-run Sports Council suspended Bezabeh for two years and fined him 3,000 euros, thus becoming the only athlete to face sanctions over Operation Galgo, a 2010 sting against a doping ring, in which Marta Domínguez was also arrested along with other high-profile athletes, coaches and doctors. She was acquitted of those charges in July 2011.

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