The Council of State suspended the athlete Ophélie Claude-Boxberger for four years, two years longer than what was decided by the sanctions commission of the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD), for having tested positive at the EPO on the 18th. September, 2019.
This middle distance event specialist had proclaimed her innocence from the start. On 29 November 2019, at the end of the police custody before the Oclaesp gendarmes (Central Office for the fight against damage to the environment and public health), her former father-in-law and former coach Alain Flaccus confessed to having doped her without his knowledge during a massage.
The AFLD had asked for an eight-year suspension and appealed to the Council of State against the decision of the Sanctions Commission, an independent body, to impose a two-year fine on the middle distance specialist. The four-year fine was requested by the public rapporteur. He had estimated at the hearing that the “special circumstances” raised by the Athlete’s defense did not reduce the suspension. On the other hand, he did not find the alleged crime of forgery.
In fact, in addition to hiring the EPO, the AFLD asked that the athlete be sanctioned also for falsifying elements of doping control, in particular by influencing the testimony of his former coach. The AFLD believed this witness had been manipulated by the athlete and had also lied about his geolocation in the days leading up to her check on him.
Alain Flaccus, who had supported this thesis of unsolicited doping, had declared, on June 26, 2020 to the Agence France-Presse, that he had never committed such a gesture. In September 2021, Alain Flaccus, prosecuted by Ophélie Claude-Boxberger for “poisoning”, he had been acquitted by the court of Montbéliard (Doubs).
AFLD said in a press release Tuesday, “fulfilled” that the Council of State applies the four-year sanction “in compliance with the presence of EPO”.
As for the forgery, the decision is “illuminating” for AFLD. She “confirms that inducing a witness to lie about the origin of a prohibited substance is capable of characterizing a crime of tampering, as well as, depending on the circumstances, the non-fulfillment of the obligations in which it finds itself”. But, in this case, the Council of State held it “the level of proof was not sufficient”. The AFLD Sanctions Committee had not followed him down this path of falsification.
The AFLD, which now has investigative powers, believes these will allow it to do so in the future “Better ascertain the falsifications found in anti-doping procedures”.