Athletics: Whitlock banned during drugs probe

Janine Whitlock has been suspended from competition by UK Athletics from July 19 pending a disciplinary committee hearing.

The English pole-vaulter tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid at the Commonwealth Games trials last month.

The independent drugs advisory officer (DAO) has ruled that Whitlock has a case to answer based on her A sample.

Whitlock could face a two-year ban from competition if an analysis of her B sample also proves positive.

She has already stated her intention to appeal, claiming her sports drink must have been sabotaged.

A UK Athletics statement said: "Following the adverse finding of a metabolite of methandienone in the urine sample given by Janine Whitlock on June 16, a review of the evidence has been conducted by the independent drug advisory officer (DAO).

UK Athletics confirms that as a result of this review the DAO considers that there is prima facie evidence that a doping offence has been committed and therefore the matter must be considered at a disciplinary hearing.

"UK Athletics has therefore suspended Janine Whitlock from athletic competition from July 19 pending a hearing before an independent disciplinary committee. Suspension should not be taken as an indication of guilt but rather that there is a case to answer. The date for the disciplinary committee has yet to be set."

Whitlock admitted to being "shell-shocked" when she was told her urine sample given at the trials had come back positive.

In a statement released through her solicitors, she said: "From the initial evidence that has been provided by my advisors, it appears that a doping offence has been committed in accordance with UK Athletics rules.

"Naturally, I was shell-shocked on learning this. I have never knowingly taken a prohibited substance and I have always fully supported the anti-doping policy of both UK Athletics and the International Association of Athletics Federations."

She is convinced the positive test cannot have been anything other than an act of sabotage.

"Of course I can't be 100% certain that anybody did that to me (spiked her drink) but I can't see any other way," she said.

"If it wasn't me, it has to be somebody else. I will be banned and we will never find out for sure but what other explanation is there?

"You can't lock (drinks) away every time you take a vault, so it's possible."

England's performance director John Vernon had assured Whitlock she would be selected for the Games squad regardless of whether she took part in the trials or not, but she could not resist the lure of competition - but has now had her hopes of competing in the actual Games dashed.

"It was just that it was Manchester before the Commonwealth Games, a new stadium and anyway, I love competing," added Whitlock.

"If only I'd known. I was so close that week to not competing. Then none of this would have happened."

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