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Nina Kraft dead at 51

Former German pro who was disqualified for using EPO after winning Kona in 2004 has died

Photo by: Charlie St Cyr-Paul Facebook

According to a variety of news reports and social media posts, former German professional triathlete Nina Kraft is dead.

Kraft is best remembered for being caught using EPO after winning the 2004 Ironman World Championship. After her drug test came back positive, Kraft immediately admitted to using the banned substance and received a two year ban from the sport.

For those of us who saw her after the race in 2004, it was easy to believe that she was never comfortable with the win. I wrote in a column that year that when I gave her a hug after her speech at the awards ceremony, I could immediately tell that something was wrong. That was confirmed a few weeks later when the positive test result came out.

“I never really rejoiced over the victory in Hawaii,” Kraft said in an interview with the Hesse state radio, espn.com reported at the time. “I was ashamed the entire time, especially in front of my family. I cheated.”

Kraft won her first Ironman event in South Africa in 2001. That year she would also win Ironman Europe in Roth and take third in Kona. In 2002 she was second in Kona and then took third in 2003 on the Big Island. In 2004, before the race in Kona, she successfully defended her title at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, Germany.

After serving her suspension, Kraft moved to Clermont, Florida and returned to competition. She would win Ironman Brazil and Florida in 2007, and took Ironman Louisville three times – 2009, 2011 and 2014, winning her last Louisville title at the age of 45. She retired from professional competition in 2014.

“As was reported by those around her, she suffered from depression,” German triathlon website tri-mag.de posted in a story earlier today.