Barakat banned for failing dope test

Oman's top sprinter and Asian Games bronze medallist Barakat al Harthy has been slapped with a six-month ban for testing positive for a banned substance at the 12th Arab Games in Doha last December. 

The ban, which came into effect from January 8, was announced by the Oman Anti-Doping Committee (OADC) on Tuesday.

Barakat, however, has been cleared to participate in the Olympic Games this year as the ban will end on July 8, according to the Oman Athletics Association (OAA). The London Games will be held from July 27-August 12.

The 23 year old from Ibra tested positive for methylprednisolone (see box) in Doha, where he won a silver medal in 100m. The result of the test was conveyed to the OADC by Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) of GCC and Yemen. The sprinter was then interviewed by OADC twice - on January 8 and 24 - and a second test conducted on his request. On January 8, Barakat was also asked to stay away from any official competition till his case was decided.

“The result of the B sample was the same as that of the A sample taken during the Arab Games,” said Maj Abdullah Hamad al Alawi, OADC secretary, told Muscat Daily. “The second sample was tested at an accredited lab in Switzerland.”

OADC's disciplinary committee decided on April 21 to impose the ban with retrospective effect. “Barakat has 21 days, starting from April 21, to appeal the ban,” Maj Alawi said. “He can also appeal in Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland.”

Major Alawi added that the OADC's decision will be conveyed to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world body governing athletics, RADO and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Hamad al Jabri, OAA chairman, told Muscat Daily that Barakat had taken the banned substance 'inadvertently' as a 'medicine for healing an injury', which he had suffered during a preparatory camp in UAE before the Arab Games.

“Whatever has happened is not good for athletics,” Jabri said. “This is the first such case in athletics in Oman and we regret it. However, we understand the circumstances under which Barakat took the substance. When we received information in January that he tested positive at the Arab Games in Doha, we stopped him from participating in any domestic or international competitions.”

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Barakat said he would be more careful in future. “In the last few months, I have suffered a lot,” he said. “I have not been able to prepare properly for the London Games. I want to go to the Olympics, and I will be more careful.”

Barakat qualified for the Olympics with a personal best time of 10.17 seconds at the GCC Games in Manama last October to become only the second Omani after Mohammed Amer al Malki  to make the cut, ending a 23 year wait for the sultanate.

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