Lithuanian marathon runner Balčiūnaitė gets maximum penalty for doping
Lithuanian long-distance runner Živilė Balčiūnaitė has been slammed with an eight-year ban from competition after testing positive for doping.
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The suspension essentially means the end of the career for the 37-year-old marathon runner who is barred from competing until 2024 when she will be 45.
The decision was made by the Anti-doping Commission of the Athletics Federation of Lithuania. Balčiūnaitė tested positive for banned substances for the second time.
The athlete was suspended from competition for two years in 2011 and was stripped of her gold medal in the European Championship in Barcelona.
This time, Balčiūnaitė reportedly tested positive for meldonium after anti-doping authorities took her sample outside of competition last April.
The World Anti-Doping Agency ramped up penalties for use of forbidden substances last year. The World Anti-Doping Code now provides for a two to four-year disqualification for athletes caught doping and double the period for repeated breaking of the rules.
Balčiūnaitė finished 4th at the marathon event of the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg. She also competed in the same event at the 2004 Olympics, finishing 14th. She finished 11th at the 2008 Olympics.