Rebekah Keat - speaking at the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Pure Performance seminar at the Lismore Workers Club.
Rebekah Keat - speaking at the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Pure Performance seminar at the Lismore Workers Club. The Northern Star

Fight for justice continues

AFTER years of training and longer spent dreaming, triathlete Rebekah Keat won the first ironman-distance event she competed in.

Then the dream turned sour with a bitter little pill - and a clean conscience proved no defence for returning a positive steroid test.

The then 24-year-old served a two-year suspension when anti-doping authorities found traces of the performance-enhancing drug Nandrolone in the sample she provided after winning a race at Busselton in Western Australia in 2004.

Subsequent investigations revealed Keat had inadvertently ingested about one-millionth of a gram of the substance through a contaminated electrolyte tablet.

She has since cleared her reputation and gone on to finish second in the past two Byron Bay triathlons, and now the Gold Coaster is coming back to Lismore to warn others about the danger of taking supplements.

Keat will be guest speaker at the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) Pure Performance seminar at the Lismore Workers Club tonight from 6.30.

The seminar is part of a nation-wide approach to educating athletes and sports administrators about the latest anti-doping policy and procedure.

"I was taking electrolyte tablets guaranteed to be 100 per cent natural; they were cross-contaminated by steroids being produced in the same factory," Keat said.

"They called me four weeks after the race and said you've tested positive to a performance-enhancing drug Nandrolone - I had no idea what it was.

"Until you can prove it you get the same ban as a drug taker.

"It took 18 months to get them tested in a special testing lab overseas. I didn't have a chance to prove my innocence until the ban was up.

"They said to me if it happened now I'd get a (penalty of a) warning, up to three months, because I'd be able to prove how it got there."

Two other athletes fell victim to the same pills and the trio have since launched a class action law-suit against the makers of the pills.

Court of opinion

"I was definitely labelled," Keat said.

"Unfortunately, you get judged in the court of public opinion before you even get to state your case.

"I am currently taking legal action. The company has to be held responsible for my loss even if it's just an apology."

Keat will be speaking at similar seminars across the country in an effort to help other athletes avoid the trap.

"Initially, the seminars were to try to prevent athletes from taking performance-enhancing drugs but the side I thought they should touch on was inadvertent consumption - a positive test that results from accidental ingestion," Keat said.

"Athletes have no idea the risk they are taking with supplements.

"In 2004, 22 per cent of American supplements were contaminated with steroids.

"It's very rare but (inadvertent consumption) does happen."

ASADA chairman Richard Ings said the seminars were part of a quest to achieve pure performance in sport and encouraged all up and coming athletes to attend, especially those who would not normally be reached through normal anti-doping programs.

"The program utilises elite athletes, medical specialists and anti-doping educators to provide athletes and their support personnel with a holistic anti-doping message that they can take away and apply in their sporting lives," Ings said.


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