Distance runner Louisa Leballo has been slapped with an eight-year ban for two anti-doping infringements.
Following an impressive string of fine performances earlier this year, the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) confirmed on Wednesday the 39-year-old athlete had received a four-year suspension after returning an adverse analytical finding for the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO) in an out-of-competition test in March.
She was given an additional four years for undermining the doping control process after attempting to persuade a doping control officer to “cancel the test”.
“Leballo conducted her own defence at the July 19 hearing,” Saids revealed.
“She was given the maximum four-year sanction for each offence and the panel ruled that they should run consecutively.”
Making a comeback after a four-year hiatus at top-flight domestic level, Leballo had raised eyebrows with her superb form this season.
In February she set a 5 000m personal best of 16:24.44 in Durban, and in March she clocked a 10 000m career best of 34:22.71 at altitude in Pretoria.
She went on to lead the national senior women’s team by taking 33rd place at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala.
In April she stunned the field at the Spar Women’s Grand Prix 10km road race in Cape Town, winning a sprint finish in 32:58 to chop 31 seconds off her personal best which she had been set more than 13 years earlier.