Long Distance Runner Sanctioned

The Portuguese Athletic Federation (FPA) has found Hélder Ornelas, 38, a long distance runner from Portugal, guilty of a doping violation and sanctioned him with a 4-year period of ineligibility.

The evidence against the long distance runner included a series of blood test results that were collected by the IAAF in the course of the Athlete Biological Passport program between December 2009 and November 2010. This is the first time wherein Athlete Biological Passport has been used in athletics as sole evidence in support of an anti-doping rule violation.

The biological passport measures and monitors the blood variables of an athlete over a period of time besides establishing an individual longitudinal profile that can suggest the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method. The blood profile of Hélder Ornelas was flagged as being abnormal in May 2011 that triggered further investigations in accordance with IAAF Anti-Doping Regulations.

Blood profile of the distance runner was then submitted to an expert panel that was composed on three international experts in the field of hematology. It was unanimously concluded by the experts that there was no known reasonable explanation for the abnormalities observed in the blood profile of Ornelas other than the use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method.

The IAAF initiated disciplinary proceedings against Ornelas on the basis of conclusions made by the expert panel and referred the runner’s case to the Portuguese Athletic Federation for adjudication. The IAAF sought a sanction of four years while referring the case to the FPA because it believed that there ere aggravating circumstances in this case to justify the imposition of an increased sanction, which is in line with the long-standing position of the IAAF that favors an increased sanction for serious first time doping offences and the governing body said it would continue to enforce the rules on aggravating circumstances whenever there are valid grounds for doing so.

Decision by the FPA concludes an evaluation of ten months and adjudication process. The long distance runner did not exercise his right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and decision by the FPA became final and binding under rules of the IAAF.

IAAF President Lamine Diack said members of the athletic community should be warned that the Athlete Biological Passport is more than just a concept, as it is an efficient method that is now being used by the IAAF Anti-Doping Department for identifying, targeting, and catching those who chose doping as the only route to success.

With this sanction, Hélder Ornelas becomes the first Olympic athlete to be caught using the Athlete Biological Passport.

Ornelas, who has competed in two Olympics, won the Milan Marathon in 2005 and the Prague Marathon in 2007 and finished 46th in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and was 17th in the 5,000 meters at the 2000 Sydney Games. Hélder Ornelas finished eighth in the long race at the 2001 world cross country championships and also won the 2005 Milan Marathon.

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