Belgian runner missed just one test â€“ not three as previously reported
Atelaw Bekele, last yearâ€™s European cross-country champion, has been cleared of doping charges but, contrary to some reports, his trial was connected to just one missed test â€“ not three.
The Flemish anti-doping agency in Belgium declared the distance runner had not been willfully neglectful in missing an out-of-competition test earlier this year and he escaped a sanction of up to two years.
The defence for the Ethiopian-born Belgian argued that his missed test on February 8, 2012, was due to him changing his hotel plans at the last minute and not updating his â€œwhereaboutsâ€ information.
While training in Ethiopia, he deemed his planned hotel too expensive on arrival and decided to stay in a nearby hotel. As a result of this, he was not found when doping officials turned up at the premises he had indicated.
Despite assumptions that he had missed three-out-competition tests within an 18-month period, which would have led to an automatic suspension, the Flemish athletics federation and Bekeleâ€™s lawyer confirmed he had missed only one test.
Rule 2.3 of the World Anti-Doping Code offers scope for an athlete to be found guilty of a doping offence by missing just one test if he or she is considered to have shown â€œintentional or negligent conductâ€.
Bekele had been a surprise winner of the European Cross in Slovenia in 2011, but on defending his title in Budapest last month â€“ perhaps feeling the pressure of the allegations â€“ he was only 58th.
Source: Athletics Weekly