Two-time Olympian and New Zealand’s marathon record holder Zane Robertson has been suspended by the NZ Sports Tribunal for eight years for multiple anti-doping rule violations. He tested positive for EPO during the Great Manchester Run in May 2022, which was later confirmed after B-sample testing.
Robertson violated the rules for the presence and use or attempted use of the prohibited substance erythropoietin (EPO), and for tampering, or attempted tampering, with any part of the doping control process.
The 33-year-old claimed he was injected with EPO without his knowledge when he went to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Kenya.
His attempt to submit fraudulent documents to defend himself then led to him facing another charge. He submitted hospital notes to back up his claim, but Drug-Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) found the story to be false.
In a statement, the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand said Robertson was provisionally suspended without opposition for the first two anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) on Sept. 20 last year.
Robertson holds six national distance running records, including the half and full marathon. He also won a bronze medal in the men’s 5,000m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Last month, before his suspension was revealed, he announced his retirement from professional running on his Instagram:
“Sometimes I post here, sometimes I don’t. The last 3 years haven’t been great for me on and off the track/roads. A lot of people/companies involved in almost made me lose interest in the sport completely. A lot of things going on outside the sport too, and people sometimes forget that we are humans before we are athletes! I’m enjoying running for what it is, fun, enjoyment, fitness, runners high.” – @zane_robertson_nzl
New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Nicki Nicol released a statement following the ban. “The offenses committed by Zane Robertson are deeply disappointing, and his actions go against everything the New Zealand team stands for,” said Nicol. “Every athlete has the right to compete on an even playing field and Robertson’s actions by him have undermined the integrity of sport.”
Robertson moved to Kenya with his twin brother Jake when they were 17, to try to make it as distance runners. Zane ran national records of 27:28 for 10 km, 27:33.67 for 10,000m, 59:47 for the half-marathon and 2:08:19 for the marathon. He finished 12th in the 10,000m in Rio and 36th in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon, in 2:17:04.
Robertson cannot compete again until September 2030.