Kiwi runner banned for four years for importing EPO

Brendon Keenan, a 44-year-old masters distance runner from Rotorua, has been banned from all sport for four years for possessing and attempting to use Erythropoietin (EPO), a substance prohibited in sport at all times.

Mr Keenan admitted that he had ordered and paid for EPO online from an overseas website and submitted this was to address a medical condition.  The package containing the EPO was intercepted by the NZ Customs Service and referred to Medsafe.  After conducting enquiries, Medsafe advised Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ).

Drug Free Sport New Zealand Chief Executive, Nick Paterson, said “Unfortunately, once more the integrity of sport is called into question.

We work closely with Athletics NZ to educate and support their members in meeting their anti-doping responsibilities.   EPO is well known for its performance enhancing effects, especially amongst endurance athletes. At the minimum, Mr Keenan knew that this purchase presented a significant risk of an anti-doping violation”.

In this particular case, I would also like to recognise the vigilance and hard work of our border agencies in intercepting this and other prohibited substances coming into the country, which is no small feat considering the millions of packages coming into New Zealand every day.”

In expressing his disappointment, Athletics NZ CEO Hamish Grey said that Athletics NZ supports the sanctions imposed by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.

“Athletics New Zealand is saddened that one of its individual members has committed a doping infringement,” said Grey.

“Drug Free Sport plays a very important role in maintaining the integrity of sport and we support their mandate and work to implement the Sports Anti-Doping Rules (SADR) to keep sport clean.”

“Although Brendan Keenan is not an elite athlete and competes in masters competition, we need to send a clear message that the use of performance enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in athletics at any level,” added Grey.

Keenan’s four years ineligibility is back-dated to the time of his violation in September 2017, meaning he will be disqualified from his second-place finish in the 40-44 age grade at the New Zealand Marathon championships in Rotorua in May this year.

He will also forfeit the three medals he won at the New Zealand Masters Athletics Championships in Whangarei earlier this year.

His membership of Athletics New Zealand and Lake City Athletic Club is suspended immediately until his ban ends in September 2021

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