Belarusian officials must prove to both the World Anti-Doping Agency and world athletics body IAAF that disgraced Olympic shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk was the victim of in-house drug-spiking.
Otherwise, Ostapchuk's ban could go from one year to four - which could rule her out of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Yesterday, Belarus' top administrators claimed Ostapchuk twice returned positive doping tests at the London Olympics because her coach, Alexander Yefimov, secretly "dusted her food" with the anabolic steroid metenolone.
Belarus' national anti-doping agency (Nada) announced a one-year competitive ban for Ostapchuk while Yefimov was served with a four-year sentence.
The next step in what's set to be a high-profile and lengthy case is that the Belarusians must produce a public report, justifying their verdicts.
The claim Yefimov spiked Ostapchuk's food was greeted with widespread scepticism yesterday.
Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Graeme Steel said it was "hardly credible". "It's just an extraordinary thing to have us believe that a coach of a potential gold medal athlete would do that."
Wada director-general David Howman said his organisation was prepared to challenge the Belarusian federation and that athletes were ultimately fully responsible for vigilance.
“If we felt that the international federation [IAAF] hadn't stepped in appropriately, we'd do something,” Howman said.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee issued a press release last night, indirectly questioning Nada's actions. “The NZOC believes tougher penalties are necessary to protect the integrity of sport and the Olympic movement."
- The Dominion Post
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