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Great Britain sprinter Nigel Levine given four-year doping ban

The Guardian logo The Guardian 20/11/2018 Sean Ingle
Britain's Nigel Levine looks on before competing in the Men's 4x400m Relay Round 1 during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016.   / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty Images Britain's Nigel Levine looks on before competing in the Men's 4x400m Relay Round 1 during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The sprinter Nigel Levine, who was an integral part of Great Britain’s 4x400m relay squad for nearly a decade, has been banned for four years after testing positive for clenbuterol – a performance-enhancing drug that helps burn fat, builds muscle, and improves athletic performance.

Levine, who won nine world and European championship medals, blamed the failed test on two contaminated supplements he was taking at the time of the out-of-competition test in November 2017. However, the UK Anti-Doping Agency rejected the 29-year-old’s defence after he was unable to provide samples from the correct batch of the supplements to the UK Anti-Doping Agency for testing.

Levine had also maintained that his behaviour at the time of sample collection supported his position that he did not intentionally ingest clenbuterol. For despite not being part of the registered testing pool, he opened the door to testers as he believed that he had nothing to hide.

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However, in its ruling Ukad said that was not enough to demonstrate a lack of intention on Levine’s part. It added: “Ukad also notes that on his doping control form, when asked to identify what supplements he had consumed in the seven days prior to sample collection, Mr Levine answered ‘None’.”

Ukad chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, said the case served as a warning for athletes to thoroughly check what was in supplements before taking them. “All athletes must adhere to the principle of strict liability, and are solely responsible for any substances found in their system,” she said. “Mr Levine is an elite athlete, who has competed at the Olympic Games, European and World Championships, and has received significant anti-doping education throughout his career.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 10:  Matthew Hudson-Smith, Nigel Levine, Delano Williams and Rabah Yousif of Great Britain celebrate with their medals after winning bronze in the final of the mens 4x400m relay on day five of The 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 10, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) © Getty Images AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 10: Matthew Hudson-Smith, Nigel Levine, Delano Williams and Rabah Yousif of Great Britain celebrate with their medals after winning bronze in the final of the mens 4x400m relay on day five of The 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 10, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“It is up to role models such as Mr Levine to uphold the highest standards when it comes to anti-doping, ensuring they check all supplements thoroughly and are 100 per cent certain they know that what they are consuming is not prohibited.”

Levine, who has won gold and silver 4x400m relay medals at the European championships and three 4x400m world indoor championships relay medals, is yet to comment on the decision.

Athletes who served lengthy bans (Read Sport)

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