More Hunter-Galvan

Former Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon women’s champion Liza Hunter-Galvan, a New Zealand native living in San Antonio, Texas, has been banned from competition for two years after a positive drug test for the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO). The ban was handed down Friday by the New Zealand Sports Tribunal

Hunter-Galvan won the 2008 Garry Bjorklund-Half Marathon in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 20 seconds and earned$1,500, and was drug tested at the time with a clean result. She then petitioned Athletics New Zealand to be named to the country’s Olympic marathon team. She was given a spot and finished 35th in Beijing in 2:34:51 and was named 2008 Sportswoman of the Year in the San Antonio area by the Express News. She had run Grandma’s Marathon in 2007 but did not finish.

Speaking from San Antonio on Thursday night, Hunter-Galvan, 40, told the Dominion Post of New Zealand that she had cut herself off from the outside world and was struggling to explain why she took the banned substance.

The two-time Olympian and mother of four admitted taking EPO three times, in February and March this year, the last dose just three days before her positive test March 23.

Athletics New Zealand chief executive Scott Newman told the Dominion Post that Hunter-Galvan’s actions were abhorrent. “For whatever reason, some athletes will be tempted and we are extremely disappointed with Liza,” he said. “This certainly serves as a reminder that cheats are highly likely to be caught.

“Liza has not only let herself and her sport down, she has let down those who have supported her throughout her career, including some of New Zealand’s athletics icons.”

Hunter-Galvan told the New Zealand Sports Tribunal she stopped taking the drug, which promotes the growth of red blood cells to improve endurance, because of side effects such as headaches and stomach and chest pains.

Asked yesterday how she was coping, she said: “Oh, not okay. I made a big mistake, I made a terrible choice.

“It’s interesting when really bad stuff happens everyone wants a piece of you. Unfortunately I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

She’s still officially the fifth-fastest New Zealand woman marathoner, behind Allison Roe, three-time Grandma’s Marathon champion Lorraine Moller, Mary O’Connor and Marguerite Buist. Hunter-Galvan’s suspension begins May 29, the date of her provisional suspension following the failed B-sample test.