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Ironman pro and age-group athlete sanctioned after positive tests before Ironman World Championship

Ukranian pro Daniil Sapunov and Brazilian age-grouper Rodrigo Tavares tested positive in out-of-competition tests done in Kona.

Ironman announced two drug-related suspensions yesterday based on tests done heading into the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, last year.

Daniil Sapunov competes at the 2019 Ironman World Championship

Read the full statement

Ukranian pro Daniil Sapunov finished 24th in Kona, but was disqualified thanks to an “Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the substance erythropoietin (EPO)” according to the statement from Ironman released on April 10.  Sapunov was tested on October 8, four days before the world championship.

A three-time Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012), Sapunov represented both Kazakhstan and the Ukraine during his ITU career, during which he won a number of Asian Cup events and one European Cup title.

His long-distance career included an Ironman victory in Malaysia in 2018 and a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Gdynia in 2016. Sapunov has “accepted a four-year sanction for the anti-doping rule violation.”

Age-grouper tests positive for steroids

Brazil’s Rodrigo Tavares competed in the men’s 35 to 39 age group in Kona, finishing 128th in the category in a time of 10:13:34. His test was done on October 7.

“Tavares’ samples resulted in Adverse Analytical Findings(AAF) for multiple prohibited substances: Clomifene and additional findings consistent with the exogenous administration of multiple Anabolic Androgenic Steroids which were confirmed by Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) analysis,” according to the release from Ironman.

Tavares took second in the 35 to 39 age group at Ironman Brazil last year, presumably where he qualified for Kona, in a time of 8:55:04, finishing 19th overall in the race.

“These results and sanctions once again illustrate the importance of Ironman’s commitment to protecting the integrity of the IRONMAN World Championship at both the professional and age-group levels,” said Kate Mittelstadt, Director of the Ironman Anti-Doping Program. “We work diligently to ensure all qualified athletes are aware of their responsibilities and rights under the anti-doping rules and our testing program. Considering the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our athletes and our events we will continue to use intelligence and information to shape our anti-doping program and ensure that the testing we do supports both the deterrence and detection of qualified athletes who are in violation of the anti-doping rules.”