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French steeplechaser receives four-year ban for positive EPO test

Claude-Boxberger is a five-time national champion of France in the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase

Photo by: Docteur es sport/CC

French steeplechaser Ophélie Claude-Boxberger, who tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO in 2019, has had her doping suspension extended to four years, according to France’s highest administrative court, le Conseil d’Etat.

Claude-Boxberger initially received a two-year suspension, but both she and the country’s anti-doping agency appealed the initial decision. Claude-Boxberger denied wrongdoing, while the French anti-doping agency believed the two-year ban was too lenient and requested an eight-year ban.

Claude-Boxberger tested positive for EPO during an out-of-competition test carried out on Sept. 28, 2019, before the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar in October. Afterward, she revealed that she was romantically involved with the French team doctor, Jean-Michel Serra.

Claude-Boxberger is a five-time national champion in the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase and is the fourth fastest French steeplechaser in history, with a personal best of 9:35.56. She represented France at several European Championships and the 2019 World Championships, where she was eliminated in the heats of the 3,000m steeplechase.

She was suspended for two years in March 2021, retroactive to her positive test in 2019; she was allowed to compete until the latest decision. The current ban will run until April 2024, which means she will likely be able to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games to be held in Paris.

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