24 Mar 2011

Triathlete delighted and dismayed at doping decision

7:10 pm on 24 March 2011

The triathlete who linked a positive test for morphine to poppy seeds is delighted the Sports Tribunal has accepted evidence the narcotic could have come from seeds in gluten-free bread.

But Graham O'Grady will still be stripped of his Port of Tauranga half ironman title as well as the prize money he won on January 8 and says having the highlight of his career taken from him is gut-wrenching and humiliating.

Triathlon New Zealand says the rules governing such a breach make that mandatory, regardless of the no fault finding.

O'Grady says being suspended before his case was decided also kept him out of two key races, the New Plymouth Half Ironman and another in Abu Dhabi.

He says his only offence was eating gluten-free corn and poppy seed bread from a supermarket and it never crossed his mind it constituted a risk of any sort.

O'Grady did not challenge the positive test result but the tribunal says it accepts expert scientific evidence that the seeds may produce morphine, and that baking may boost the level of the drug.

O'Grady could not have been reasonably expected to have known or suspected that, even exercising the utmost caution.

The tribunal says it is a very unusual case and, after hearing from O'Grady and other witnesses, it found there is no other credible explanation.