Kiwi doper Zane Robertson breaks silence on 'really bad decisions'

Thu, Mar 23

Disgraced New Zealand distance runner and Olympian Zane Robertson says his decision to dope came from some "really bad decisions in a really dark place".

It was revealed yesterday that Robertson tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) and provided false documentation in his defence after he was tested at the UK's Great Manchester Run in May 2022.

He has been banned for eight years.

EPO artificially enhances performance in endurance sport by boosting red blood cells. He was slapped with an additional charge of tampering with doping control when documents he submitted in his defence were found to be fraudulent.

The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand said in its decision that Robertson had claimed to have attended a Kenyan medical facility seeking a Covid-19 vaccination, but was instead treated for Covid-19, which included the administration of EPO.

Robertson supported his evidence with affidavits from Kenyan doctors, hospital notes, a hospital report and a witness statement from a Kenyan detective - much of which was disputed by the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya.

Speaking to the Runner's Only with Dom Harvey podcast Robertson said he had been growing increasingly frustrated at the sport, and he made some "really bad decisions in a really dark place".

"It's been building on me for a few years - frustration and anger at the sport itself," he told Harvey.

"At any elite sport I believe the top is, it's not a level playing field like they say. Why do people like myself, I had to ask myself this question, why do people like myself always have to be the ones to lose or suffer, and in the end, lose our contracts, lose our income, lose our race winnings, and eventually end up not having the ability to have a family or live anywhere else in the world from the predicaments we are in.

"That was one reason. The other reason, especially after Covid - the Covid era - prize money in races went down, contracts were almost dropped as well, after the Olympics I was told by one of my companies 'we thought you'd run better' and immediate exit from the deal.

"The other company was holding on just to the bare minimum. I had pressure from my management. I was constantly getting injured in the race shoes I was trying to develop. Nothing was seeming to go my way."

All that, combined with a divorce, led him to make some bad decisions.

He took "full blame" for attempting to cover up his cheating, but said faced with the end of his career, he was just doing what he could to try and avoid that.

"To me four years is the same as eight, it's the end of my career, there's no coming back from this and I knew - I was just trying to save my ass."

He said things were tough mentally, and was concerned about how it was going to affect his brother Jake and sister-in-law, who were both athletes.

Zane Robertson of New Zealand.

While he didn't have much by way of a support network in Kenya, where he had been based for much of his life, the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist said he had received many supportive messages.


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