December 5, 2017 / 12:02 AM / a year ago

Doping: British weightlifter admits positive test

2016 Rio Olympics - Weightlifting - Final - Men's 94kg - Riocentro - Pavilion 2 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 13/08/2016. Sonny Webster (GBR) of Britain competes. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

(Reuters) - British weightlifter Sonny Webster has been banned from competing after admitting on his Facebook page on Monday that he had tested positive for the banned substance ostarine.

Webster, 23, who finished 14th in 94kg category at the Rio Olympics, has been an outspoken advocate for clean sport and said he was devastated when notified four months ago.

“I was in complete shock when I found out and I still do not know how this substance came to be in my system,” Webster said in a statement on his Facebook page. “Weightlifting is my life and everything that I live and breathe and I would never risk losing this by knowingly taking a banned substance.”

Webster said in the months since learning of his positive test he has spent his life’s savings trying to find out how the banned substance got into his system.

“The money was spent on lawyers, analysis of samples and supplements and on the legal team who did all they could to establish the source,” said Webster. “Whilst this has been a strain financially, I knew that I had to do all that I could in order to attempt to prove my innocence.

“If I had known the source of the ostarine, I would never have spent so much money in trying to pinpoint where it came from. This whole experience has highlighted that my integrity is worth far more than any amount of money.”

While Webster maintains his innocence, he said he will grudgingly accept a four year ban without the financial resources to appeal the decision.

“This is the largest possible ban you can receive for a doping case,” he said. “Given the circumstances of the test and how hard I tried to find the source I felt this length of ban was wholly unjustified in comparison to athletes who cheat intentionally in competition.

“I had attempted to appeal this further but was ultimately stopped due to future legal cost and difficulty around using new experts to perform re-testing.”

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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