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New Zealand marathon runner Zane Robertson has been slapped with an eight-year doping ban. He tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) in May of 2022. Apparently, Robertson provided false documentation in his defence, which led to the longer suspension.
Statement from New Zealand Olympic Committee
The New Zealand Olympic Committee responds to the two four-year bans received by distance runner Zane Robertson today:
“The offences 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 even playing field and Robertson’s actions have undermined the integrity of sport.
“We thank Drug Free Sport New Zealand for their commitment to supporting the New Zealand athletes who are proud to compete cleanly. We also acknowledge Athletics NZ, DFSNZ and HPSNZ for extending wellbeing support to Robertson.”
Nicki Nicol, CEO and Secretary General, New Zealand Olympic Committee.
“The offences committed by Zane Robertson are deeply disappointing and his actions go against everything the New Zealand Team stands for.”— The New Zealand Team (@TheNZTeam) March 21, 2023
Nicki Nicol, CEO and Secretary General, New Zealand Olympic Committee.https://t.co/XrZQEh7j28
Roberton holds the national marathon record at 2:08:19, which he set in the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon. The 33-year-old also holds three area records for Oceania including the road 10K at 27:28, 10 miles at 46:29 and in the half-marathon distance at 59:47. He earned a bronze medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 5000m event. Roberton finished 12th in the Rio Olympic Games 10,000m event with a finish time of 27:33.67.
Robertson with his twin brother Jake became known in the running world at age 17 when they left New Zealand for Kenya to focus on training. They have since lived and training also in Ethiopia and other areas.
Robertson on doping
In 2013, Athletics Illustrated interviewed Robertson. In that interview he gave some of his perspective on athlete who dope:
CK: What do you think of Matt Hugh’s perspective that athletes caught with a positive drug test should be banned for life; one and done?
ZR: Ok I think there should never be a banned federation because that is not fair for the clean, up-and-coming youth. As for the individual, I feel they have good rules now with the two stimulate rule because everyone has a sports drink now and then. I heard a story of clean hard-working athletes from different sports getting banned from an energy drink that contains a stimulant. As for a steroid or narcotic or EPO, I agree with Matt one and done!
CK: And stimulants?
ZR: The stimulant rule is for six months out from competition or depending on which one. Asafa Powell and the Jamaica sprinters got caught for stimulants.
I think in many cases though, it is very sad because people can just make a mistake in what supplement they take and then their name is tarnished but it is the people out there who do it knowingly that don’t get caught who bring such disrepute to our sport. All I can do is focus on myself.
Death threats in Kenya
In 2016, Robertson claimed that he received death threats while living in Kenya and subsequently moved to Ethiopia.
In an article in the New Zealand Herald quotes Zane receiving these death threats. In the article, the Herald reports that specific threats have been around Robertson having a tractor tire put on him and to light it on fire. This is a torturous South African thing called necklacing.