February 27, 2020 / 2:57 PM / 5 months ago

Athletics: British hammer thrower given four-year ban for 'gone fishing' lie

LONDON (Reuters) - British hammer thrower Mark Dry has been banned from all sport for four years after falsely claiming he had “gone fishing” to explain why he missed an out-of-competiton doping test.

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's Hammer Throw - Final - Carrara Stadium - Gold Coast, Australia - April 8, 2018. Mark Dry of Scotland reacts. REUTERS/Paul Childs

A statement on Thursday from UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) said Dry, 31, was guilty of “tampering with any part of Doping Control”.

Dry, a two-times Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner, was not at home early on Oct. 15, 2018 when anti-doping officials visited his home in Shepshed, near Loughborough.

When asked for an explanation he wrote a letter saying he had gone fishing in his native Scotland — an explanation verified in correspondence from his partner.

UKAD requested a formal interview with Dry, who admitted in a letter he had “panicked” because he did not want “a strike” against his previously unblemished record.

At an independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) hearing in October last year Fry said he had wrongfully claimed to have gone fishing on the day of the missed test.

The NADP dismissed the charges against Dry, prompting a UKAD appeal to the NADP’s appeal tribunal, resulting in a four-year ban for “subverting the Doping Control process”.

"This case is a very clear example that athletes must conduct themselves with honesty during the anti-doping process, and what is at risk if they don't," UKAD Deputy Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs Stacey Cross said in a statement here

Had Dry accepted the missed test it would have been classified as a “filing failure” under the whereabouts program and would not have resulted in any punishment.

According to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, “any combination of 3 whereabouts failures within a period of 12 months constitute an anti-doping rule violation”.

The maximum punishment for three missed tests is two years ineligibility.

Dry said he was “disappointed and heartbroken” by the decision.

“How can they equate me with someone who injects steroids or someone who constantly lies and tries to obstruct authorities,” he said on Twitter. “Other athletes lie publicly, they change their stories and are okay to continue with their sport.

“I simply cannot understand how a different panel would arrive at a four-year ban conclusion, given that the Court of Arbitration for Sport clearly indicate that the misinformation I provided does not amount to tampering.

“I have cooperated fully from the start and admitted my fault but the punishment does not remotely fit the crime.”

Fry said he would continue to fight to clear his name.

Reporting by Martyn Herman and Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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