British Olympic Runner in the Clear over Contaminated Cocaine Sample

·3-min read
Photo credit: J Kruger - British Athletics - Getty Images
Photo credit: J Kruger - British Athletics - Getty Images

British 800m runner Oliver Dustin has been cleared to take part in the Tokyo Olympics after small traces of cocaine were found in a sample he provided for a drugs test, The Times has reported.

According to the newspaper’s sources, the adverse analytical finding came after an in-competition test in France but the case has since been dropped on the grounds of cross-contamination with another sample.

In a statement on Twitter, Dustin said: 'I have never taken cocaine, I have not broken any rules, I am not under investigation and I am not facing any ban. I will be flying to Tokyo this week as planned and will be competing at the Olympic Games as also planned.'

Stephen Haas, Dustin’s agent, reportedly said when the finding was first reported that it was ‘not factual at this point’ to call the findings a positive test but declined to make further comment.

Dustin (20) turned heads in June when he set a world leading time of 1:43.82 in the 800m, breaking Seb Coe’s British under-23 record. Although he was already European under-20 champion, that time was significantly faster than his previous efforts. Later that month he cemented his status as one to watch when he came a close second to Elliot Giles at the British Championships, securing a spot on the British Olympic team as he did so.

Although the latest WADA rules have shown more leniency towards recreational substances like cocaine, they remain controversial. Earlier this month, US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was banned by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for one month after testing positive for Carboxy-THC, the main ingredient in marijuana. She told NBC’s Today programme that she used the drug to cope with the news of her mother’s death.

US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote to USADA urging them to reconsider the ban, writing that ‘the ban on marijuana is a significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties,’ according to the Associated Press. But the USADA responded that most governments in the world have been reluctant to take marijuana off the list of prohibited substances for public health reasons.

Closer to home, British runner Andrew Butchart recently attracted attention after seemingly claiming he faked a PCR test to re-enter the UK after a race. His comments, made on an episode of the Sunday Plodcast, have since been deleted. When contacted by The Times, UK Athletics said Butchart’s Olympic selection would be subject to further investigation.

‘We’re privileged to have some of these exemptions for us to be able to travel and to be able to train, so we take this matter very seriously,’ Team GB head coach Christian Malcolm said.

Butchart later rowed back his comments in a statement: ‘I have never falsified a PCR test,’ he said, but added that he had heard rumours of others faking tests. ‘The context of the podcast was about how hard it has been for athletes during the pandemic to travel and race.’ He also apologised to Team GB and the organisers of Tokyo 2020, who he said had been ‘working so hard to make the Games safe for everyone’.

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