French runner doping suspension extended to 4 years

PARIS (AP) — The doping suspension of French middle-distance runner Ophélie Claude-Boxberger has been extended to four years, France’s highest administrative court said Tuesday.

The case had been referred to the Conseil d’Etat after the country’s antidoping agency appealed an initial decision by its sanctions commission to give a two-year suspension to Claude-Boxberger.

The athlete tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO before the 2019 track and field world championships.

Claude-Boxberger, who was eliminated in the 3,000-meter steeplechase heats in Doha a few days after her out-of-competition test, has consistently denied wrongdoing.

She was suspended for two years in March 2021. The French antidoping agency believed the punishment was too lenient and had requested an eight-year ban.

“The Conseil d’Etat now considers that neither the two-year period determined by the Sanctions Committee, nor the eight-year period requested by the Agency’s presidency, are justified under the Sports Code. It therefore increased the sanction imposed on the athlete to four years,” the court said in a statement.

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