Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgarian runner Silvia Danekova has denied taking performance enhancing drugs and said she was shocked at testing positive for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) a few days after her arrival in Brazil for the Rio Olympics.
The 33-year-old, who was due to compete in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase on Monday, had been suspended pending the result of the test on her B sample, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Danekova said the only logical explanation she could give for the positive test was that the substance came from a contaminated food supplement.
EPO, which increases the number of red blood cells, has been used mostly by endurance athletes such as middle and long-distance runners and cyclists.
“I’ve been tested four times after entering the Olympic Village," Danekova, who faces a four-year ban if found guilty, told Bulgarian television on Friday.
“(Results) of the three of the samples were negative. It’s an incredibly big shock."
Danekova, who failed to get beyond the heats in the steeplechase at the 2012 London Olympics, said: “I don’t feel guilty. I cannot tell you how humiliated I feel.
“I feel robbed emotionally.
“But we’re coming from the East (eastern Europe), we’re too close to Russia ..."
Virtually all of Russia’s track and field team have been excluded from the Rio Games following revelations of state-backed doping.
Bulgaria’s sports ministry said it condemned the taking of banned substances.
“Ministry of Youth and Sports strongly condemns the behaviour of the athlete Silvia Danekova, implicated in the use of prohibited substances during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," the ministry said in a statement.
“It is unacceptable to destroy Bulgaria’s image and put a stain on the entire Bulgarian sport in such way."
Bulgarian athletics has been marred by doping over the years.
Sprinters Tezdzhan Naimova and Inna Eftimova, middle-distance runners Daniela Yordanova, Vanya Stambolova and Teodora Kolarova, high jumper Venelina Veneva and hammer thrower Andrian Andreev have all tested positive in the last decade.
The country’s weightlifting team were banned from Rio for repeated doping offences.
Danekova also hit out at housing conditions for athletes in Rio.
“We’ve been living 20 days here and I have not bathed in warm water," she said. “We clean our bathrooms with buckets." Reuters