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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Running: Austrian athlete refuses doping test, ends career


By ERIC WILLEMSEN
Associated Press Writer

VIENNA Austrian marathon runner Eva-Maria Gradwohl retired Tuesday after refusing to take a doping test while on vacation in Croatia last week.

The 37-year-old Gradwohl said she was "tired of indicating every day where I am and what I do, and wait an hour every day whether I'll get a doping test or not."

Gradwohl, who won the Linz Marathon last month to qualify for the European championships in Barcelona in July, was aware that her refusal would be "an obvious breach of the rules," she said.

"I skipped that doping test ... so I have to bear the consequences. I stand by my decision," said Gradwohl, who added she was about to make a boat trip with friends when doping officials appeared.

"I didn't want to postpone (the trip). I just wanted to enjoy my holiday, enjoy my time off, but that's impossible being a top athlete," she said. "I am tired of putting aside family and friends all the time."

Austrian anti-doping officials have opened proceedings because refusing a doping test is considered a positive test, NADA director Andreas Schwab said.

Gradwohl started her professional marathon career at the age of 34 in 2007. She finished 57th in the Olympic marathon in Beijing the next year.

Gradwohl is in a personal relationship with former skiing coach Walter Mayer, who has been banned for his alleged role in the doping scandal that rocked the Austrian team at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Italian police raided the cross-country and biathlon team lodgings, seizing a large amount of doping products and equipment.

The raid followed a tip that Mayer, who had been banned from the games by the International Olympic Committee for a blood-doping scandal in 2002, was in the area.

The IOC later imposed lifetime bans on four athletes. One of the penalties was reduced to a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Mayer was arrested and kept in custody for several weeks last year for his alleged involvement in a countrywide doping network.

He has also been identified by Vienna blood lab Humanplasma as one of the coaches who allegedly used their facility to help about 30 athletes with blood doping between 2003 and 2006.