Spain's Marta Domínguez has received a three-year suspension from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), it was announced today, bringing a conclusion to a case which has lasted more than two years.
Dominguez has also been stripped of the gold medal she won in the 3,000 metres steeplechase at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
The middle-distance runner was originally provisionally banned for four years by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in July 2013 after abnormalities were found in her athlete biological passport.
She then appealed to the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) Sports Disciplinary Committee in Madrid, who agreed with her explanation for the positive doping test and lifted her suspension.
The IAAF remained adamant Dominguez, who also won two world silver medals over 5,000m, should be banned and contested the decision of the RFEA to CAS in February 2014.
Later that year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) filed its own appeal, calling for Dominguez to be suspended from competition for four years as previously suggested by the IAAF.
Both WADA and the IAAF provided scientific evidence supporting the adverse findings in her biological passport but Dominguez insisted CAS did not have the appropriate jurisdiction.
At a hearing in June of this year, CAS found “none of the explanations offered by the RFEA or Marta Dominguez were sufficient for the Panel not to be comfortably satisfied by the scientific evidence presented by WADA and the IAAF’s experts that an anti-doping rule violation had occurred” and that they were able to rule under IAAF rules.
The CAS subsequently found the 40-year-old guilty of an anti-doping violation and she has been suspended for a period of three years dating from July 2013, meaning she could return to competition as early as next year.
As well as suspending Dominguez for three years, the CAS also ordered her results from August 5, 2009 through to July 8, 2013 be disqualified, including her gold-medal winning performance in Berlin six years ago.
Dominguez has had a turbulent past in the sport after she was arrested in 2010 in connection with Operación Galgo, an investigation by Spanish authorities into an alleged doping ring in the country before being acquitted by a judge following an appearance in court.
She had been accused of providing a fellow athlete with a banned performance-enhancing drug and was the subject of suspicions that she trafficked banned substances.
Dominguez was provisionally removed from her role as an RFEA vice-president as a result of the allegations against her.
The announcement comes after Spain was one of six countries warned they were in danger of being declared “non-compliant” by WADA at its Foundation Board meeting in Colorado Springs unless improvements in their anti-doping policies are made.
The country has been placed on a compliance "watch list" and will have to prove they have met certain compliance criteria by March 18.
If these conditions are not met, the independent Compliance Review Committee will recommend that they also be declared non-compliant.
"The IAAF is pleased to note today’s judgement of the Court of Arbitration for Sport which has found the Spanish middle-distance runner Marta Dominguez Azpeleta guilty of an anti-doping rule violation and sanctioned her with a three-year period of ineligibility following abnormalities in her IAAF Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)," an IAAF statement sent to insidethegames read.
"The IAAF is also satisfied that in upholding its appeal CAS has confirmed that all competitive results obtained by Ms Dominguez from 5 August 2009 until 8 July 2013 be disqualified.
"The conclusion of this case is a further vindication of the effectiveness of the IAAF ABP programme in the fight against doping.”
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