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 EPO. The ban was handed down Friday by the New Zealand Sports Tribunal, as noted initially by the Minnesota Web site Down the Backstretch.
Hunter-Galvan won the 2008 Garry Bjorklund-Half Marathon in 1:13:20 and won $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. Below is an Associated Press story:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Olympic marathoner Liza Hunter-Galvan of San Antonio was banned from competition for two years today after admitting using the banned performance-enhancing substance EPO.
Hunter-Galvan, 40, a mother of four, admitted using EPO on three occasions — in February, March and in May, only three days before she returned a positive doping test.
Hunter-Galvan, a teacher who finished second among women in last fall’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Antonio, represented New Zealand at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics. On both occasions she had been rejected for selection but appealed on the basis of her personal best marathon time of 2 hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds.
She finished 51st in the Athens marathon and 35th in Beijing last August.
"Everybody is incredibly annoyed," Athletics New Zealand chief executive Scott Newman said. "It’s very sad that one of our elite would choose to do this but we’re not naive.
"We don’t imagine that our athletes aren’t exposed to this at most major international competitions and I guess some will be tempted for some reason. In this case Liza was tempted and we’re incredibly disappointed about that."
There was no immediate comment from Hunter-Galvan.
The New Zealand Sports Tribunal’s findings are below:
Drug Free Sport New Zealand v Liza Hunter-Galvan
Overview – Anti-doping – erythropoietin (EPO) – athlete admitted violation and that deliberately took EPO – Tribunal rejected her submission that suspension should be backdated to the date of sample collection as she had made a “prompt” admission of the violation – Tribunal did not find her admission to be prompt in circumstances – she did not admit violation until her B sample was analysed and she had obtained packaging of samples – while she was entitled to take those steps, Tribunal considered an athlete who has knowingly taken EPO does not "promptly" admit the violation by requesting that her B sample be analysed – comments on confidentiality and privacy obligations in Sports Anti-Doping Rules which prevent Tribunal and parties to anti-doping proceedings publicly disclosing information before Tribunal has made and publicly issued a final decision – mandatory sanction of 2 years ineligibility imposed (commencing from date of provisional suspension 29 May 2009).