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Biological Passport catches first drug cheat

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Portuguese long distance runner Helder Ornelas has been banned for four years by his country's federation after becoming the first athlete to be found guilty of doping using the Athlete Biological Passport.

The suspension of the 38-year-old, who ran the 5,000m at the Sydney Olympics and the marathon in Beijing, marks a breakthrough in the fight against doping, IAAF president Lamine Diack said.

"Those who try to cheat within the athletics community should be warned that the Athlete Biological Passport is not merely a concept but rather an efficient method that is now being used by the IAAF Anti-Doping Department to identify, target and catch those who believe that doping is the only route to success," he said in a statement.

"Cheaters should also be aware that, if they are caught, the IAAF will seek an increased four-year sanction whenever the circumstances so justify."

The IAAF did not reveal what the banned substance was but said blood samples from Ornelas has been collected in the course of the Biological Passport programme during a 11-month period from December 2009.

Ornelas's blood profile was flagged as being abnormal in May 2011, triggering further investigations in accordance with IAAF Anti-Doping Regulations.

"After examination by a panel of experts in the field of haematology, it was concluded that there was no known reasonable explanation for abnormalities observed in Ornelas's blood profile other than use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method," the statement said.

The IAAF referred the case to the Portuguese Athletic Federation (FPA), recommending a four-year ban for a serious
first-time doping offence.

Ornelas has declined his right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the IAAF said.

The Athlete Biological Passport will be used for the first time at an Olympics in London this year.

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