New Zealand Olympian Liza Hunter-Galvan, the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon women’s winner, is facing reports that she may have failed a doping test, according to the Sunday Star-Times weekly newspaper in Auckland, New Zealand.
The claims are not related to her appearance in the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon or the 2008 Summer Olympics, where she placed 35th in the women’s marathon.
A story in the Star-Times said Hunter-Galvan didn’t deny she was facing a hearing and several athletics figures in the country confirmed to the newspaper that she was the unnamed Olympian who recently had a positive drug test.
Grandma’s Marathon and the accompanying Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon administer 12 drug tests total on race day, including the men’s and women’s winners. Hunter-Galvan, 40, a mother of four who resides in San Antonio, Texas, was tested by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after the 2008 Bjorklund victory and results were negative. She won in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 20 seconds and earned $1,500.
“She did receive her prize money,” said Laura Bergen, Grandma’s Marathon director of event and program development.
Grandma’s Marathon has administered drug testing the past four years and the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon has had testing the past two. The cost is split between the not-for-profit marathon and USA Track & Field, which meant a $2,600 bill for Grandma’s Marathon for the June 20 races. Results typically take about two months to process, said Bergen.
Grandma’s Marathon has cracked down on drug use since 2006 women’s champion Halina Karnatsevich of Belarus was disqualified for testing positive for the prohibited substance stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. She received a two-year ban from competition and forfeited $8,000 in prize money.
Hunter-Galvan has had non-drug related run-ins with Athletics New Zealand, the national governing body for athletics, the past two Olympic years. She had to petition in 2004 and 2008 to be added to the track and field teams to compete in the marathon.
Last year, Athletics New Zealand said it had concerns about Hunter-Galvan’s ability to give a good showing in the heat of Beijing at the 2008 Summer Games considering a time of 2:50:23 in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Yet, since 2004 Hunter-Galvan had run a then-personal best of 2:30:39 in 2007, nearly a minute faster than the marathoner chosen by Athletics New Zealand.
After running well in the heat of the 2008 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon, Hunter-Galvan appealed, ultimately won her case and ran 2:34:51 in Beijing.
Last November, she broke her personal best to win the inaugural San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 2:29:35. However, she turned down a selection to the 2009 World Championships in Berlin in August, although sources told the Star-Times it had nothing to do with a possible doping hearing.