French runner Ophelie Claude-Boxberger confirmed on Wednesday that she has been banned for two years for testing positive for EPO in September 2019, and will miss the Tokyo Olympics.
The 32-year-old middle-distance specialist had pleaded her innocence, telling a French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) independent disciplinary committee hearing on March 16 that her ex-father-in-law and assistant, Alain Flaccus, had injected her with EPO without her knowledge.
This argument may have influenced the hearing because the offence carries a maximum punishment of eight years and Claude-Boxberger has only received a backdated suspension that ends on November 5 this year.
“Given the health conditions, it’s not a big disappointment to miss the Olympics,” the former French indoor 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase champion told AFP. “My goal is still to aim for the 2024 Paris Olympics in the marathon.”
“I was facing eight years, so I could be happy, but I am not because I always asked to be acquitted. I always explained that I was innocent,” she said.
The AFLD, which could not be reached by AFP, can appeal the decision.