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David Freake tests positive for EPO, receives four year ban

A Canadian marathoner has received a four-year doping ban

David Freake of St. John’s has tested positive for several banned substances according to a Tuesday report from the CCES (Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport). The marathoner’s urine sample from an in-competition test at the 2019 Ottawa Marathon showed recombinant EPO, ephedrine (commonly found in cold medication) and GW501516, 2,4-dinitrophenol, which is primarily used as a weight-loss drug.

EPO (erythropoietin) is used to boost the body’s red blood cell production and has been on WADA’s list of banned substances for many years.

David Freake in the Sunset 5K at Maritime Race Weekend 2019. Photo: Bob MacEachern Photography

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Freake went to the media last week, telling the CBC that he took oral nasal decongestants ahead of his race in Ottawa and was appealing the sanction. He reportedly told the doping officer, while being tested, that “he had taken some medication but didn’t knowingly take anything banned.” According to the CCES, the runner has waived his right to a hearing and accepted the proposed sanction.

Freake’s most recent result was from the Maritime Race Weekend half-marathon in September, where he took seven minutes off Michel-Lucien Bergeron’s previous course record of 1:18:00 with his 1:11:14 finish, after also racing the Sunset 5K on the Friday evening–which he also won, in 15:40, for a successful “Tartan Twosome” (combining one of the 5Ks with Saturday’s half-marathon). Freake was scheduled to race STWM this past weekend but was not on the start line. The runner also won the Toronto Marathon in May 2018.

Freake holds a marathon personal best of 2:33:45 from the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and a half-marathon personal best of 1:08:48 from Toronto in 2015.

The runner’s ban will be lifted on October 10, 2023.