Hammer thrower Mark Dry lashes out at 'unfair and wrong' doping ban

PA Media and Guardian sport
Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

The hammer thrower Mark Dry has lashed out at what he described as an “unfair and wrong” decision to ban him for four years for a breach of the doping rules.

The 32-year-old had admitted lying about his whereabouts at an initial hearing before the independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) in October. The panel dismissed the charge against Dry but UK Anti-Doping appealed against this decision.

Related: The running club giving asylum seekers friendship and sense of home

In the view of the NADP appeal tribunal, Dry’s false account was deemed to be conduct intended to “subvert the doping control process” and was therefore to be considered “tampering” under the rules.

But Dry, a double Commonwealth medallist, said he is “heartbroken” at the ruling, for which there is no further method of appeal, and insisted: “I cooperated fully from the start and have admitted my fault but the punishment here does not even remotely fit the crime. This decision is unfair and wrong. I am innocent and I will continue fighting to clear my name.”

Dry was charged in May, having given false information after breaking the rule on 15 October 2018. The initial panel in October heard how Dry and his partner both wrote to Ukad saying he had been fishing despite a neighbour having told inspectors he had travelled to Scotland.

The panel ruled the lie did not constitute tampering, in part because no sanctions would have been forthcoming for the filing failure, which was a first offence. Three whereabouts filing failures within a 12-month period can result in a ban.

In his response to Thursday’s appeal announcement, Dry outlined how the initial panel had concluded it would be “grossly disproportionate and unfair” to ban him for four years after he explained what had happened.

“I simply cannot understand how a different panel would arrive at a four-year ban conclusion, given that the court of arbitration for sport clearly indicate that the misinformation I provided does not amount to tampering,” he said. Dry also pointed out that because it was a first offence, had he not written to Ukad, there would have been no consequences.

After the appeal tribunal judgment, Dry’s period of ineligibility is backdated to commence following the provisional suspension on 8 May 2019 and will end on 25 September 2023 inclusive.

The Ukad deputy director of legal and regulatory affairs, Stacey Cross, said: “This case is a very clear example that athletes must conduct themselves with honesty during the anti-doping process, and what is at risk if they don’t. It is Ukad’s role to uphold the anti-doping rules, which apply to all athletes, and there are very strict sanctions for anyone who deliberately interferes with or tries to obstruct the anti-doping process.”

Dry won bronze medals for Scotland at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.