A DOPING suspension has cost Australia’s top female boxer, three-time national champion Bianca Elmir, a virtually guaranteed Olympic berth.
The 30-year-old, who had helped fund her now shattered Olympic dream by working as a policy adviser for ACT Greens politician Amanda Bresnan, was sent home from the women’s boxing world championships in China last Friday after Boxing Australia was ordered to withdraw her from competition.
Elmir is believed to have tested positive to a banned diuretic in February when she won her third consecutive national title
Boxing Australia chairman Ted Tanner told The Age last night he was unable to comment on the case due to a ”confidentiality commitment to a government authority”. ”Until they’ve advised us that we’re relieved of that commitment we cannot respond,” he said.
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority chief executive Aurora Andruska would not comment on the suspension, but chief operating officer Trevor Burgess said the government body was likely to comment today.
A statement on its website said: ”ASADA is aware of media reports about the athlete Bianca Elmir. In accordance with our legislation ASADA will not provide comment at this time.”
Elmir’s coach, Gary Hamilton, does not deny that Elmir, Australia’s flyweight 51-kilogram champion for the past three years, took the banned substance that has triggered a provisional suspension from ASADA.
He says she took the medication to avoid swollen ankles on a flight from Ireland, where she had been training before the national titles, to Australia.
”She’s taken the substance – that’s not denied. But she wasn’t aware it was going to do what it did. It wasn’t done to help her with her boxing,” Hamilton, a lawyer and a board member of Boxing ACT, told The Canberra Times.
”There’s two reasons why it’s a problem in this case. One is it
can be used as a masking agent, and the other issue is it helps you lose weight to make the weight [division].
”But she’s never ever needed to make a weight. She wouldn’t take steroids … I really believe she’s taken it for this medical reason, and only for this medical reason. Swollen ankles on flights is hereditary in the family.”
Hamilton has accused ASADA of mishandling the case, given Elmir had limited time to appeal and still compete at the crucial world championships in China. He has also indicated Elmir has a friend, and a doctor, in Ireland prepared to provide evidence that she used the drug innocently.
Even if Elmir successfully challenges her provisional doping suspension it is now impossible for her to make July’s London Games – where women’s boxing is making its Olympics debut – given the world championships are a compulsory qualifying competition to make the national team.
Blind-sided by the news last night, Australian Olympic Committee media chief Mike Tancred said the AOC had no comment.
Reportedly distraught over her suspension, Elmir is understood to have left the country.
She had travelled with the Australian boxing team last Tuesday to Qinhuangdao, about 300 kilometres from Beijing, for the competition, but Victorian Kristy Harris was entered as her hasty replacement in the 51-kilogram division.
Harris lost her opening round fight.