Comm Games bronze medallist cops 8-year ban for doping
Olympian Zane Robertson has been banned from all sports for eight years after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO) and providing false documentation in his defense.
The distance runner, a New Zealand record holder who represented New Zealand at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics and won bronze in the 5000m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014, was tested at the Great Manchester Run in the UK in May 2022.
Robertson, who trains in Kenya, gave a positive result for EPO, which was later confirmed by B sample testing.
An additional charge of doping control manipulation was added when documents provided by Robertson in his defense were found to be fraudulent.
“Doping deprives clean athletes of a chance to compete on a level playing field,” said Nick Paterson, chief executive of Drug Free Sport New Zealand.
“Mr Robertson’s actions are not only deeply disappointing, but undermine the high level of sporting integrity that we see and expect from athletes who represent our country.”
EPO is on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List and is banned at all times. It artificially increases performance in endurance sports by strengthening red blood cells. Anti-doping sanctions for the substance are unusual in New Zealand.
Nicki Nicol, executive director of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, also condemned Robertson’s actions.
“The offenses committed by Zane Robertson are deeply disappointing and his actions go against everything the New Zealand team stands for.
“We condemn all forms of doping. Every athlete has the right to compete on an equal playing field and Robertson’s actions have undermined the integrity of the sport.
“We thank Drug Free Sport New Zealand for their commitment to supporting New Zealand athletes who pride themselves on competing clean.
Athletics NZ chief executive Pete Pfitzinger expressed his disappointment and sadness before reiterating his organization’s commitment to clean sport.
“We firmly condemn all forms of doping in our sport and, as supporters of the World Anti-Doping Code and SADR, reaffirm our strict anti-doping stance.”
“We provide anti-doping education through our national anti-doping organization DFSNZ and fully support testing protocols in our sport to ensure a level playing field for all. As an organization, we take athlete welfare very seriously, so we understand the anxiety and stress that Zane will experience.
“As soon as he received the EPO positive test notification last year, we offered and provided extensive wellbeing support alongside High Performance Sport New Zealand and we will continue to provide support during this challenging time. We appreciate DFSNZ’s consideration of the athlete’s welfare during this process.”
Paterson took the opportunity to remind athletes that a sports ban includes a ban on coaching: “Any athlete who accepts coaching from Mr. Robertson during his ban runs the risk of being banned himself.”
Robertson’s ban is retroactive to the date of his provisional suspension in September 2022.
His Great Manchester Run result is disqualified.
Steve Tew, director of high-performance sport in New Zealand, said they were extremely disappointed.
“HPSNZ fully supports the ban given to Robertson by the Sports Court and we support and thank Drug Free Sport NZ for the work they have done regarding this issue.
“Robertson had received HPSNZ funding as a Carded and Tailored Athlete Pathway Support (TAPS) athlete for several years, but he was not nominated for TAPS beyond December 2022.
“While HPSNZ condemns Robertson’s actions, we are also committed to ensuring the welfare of the athletes and we are working closely with Athletics NZ to ensure athletes have the support they need at this time.”