YOU’RE MY SUNSHINE: Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius presented flowers to Zivile Balciunaite on Aug. 26, before suspicion arose regarding her victory.
VILNIUS - On July 31, Lithuanian Zivile Balciunaite, 31, won the European marathon champion title in Barcelona during the European Athletics Championship. It is the greatest win of her career thus far. Later, the laboratory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Barcelona and the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) expressed suspicions about Balciunaite’s victory, because too high a level of testosterone (male hormone) was found in her urine sample which was taken for analysis immediately after her victory.
Now the Lithuanian Athletics Federation has suspended Balciunaite from participation in competitions until the final judgment from Barcelona is in, which is expected in December. In the worst-case scenario, Balciunaite can lose her champion’s title with disqualification from further competitions. On Nov. 1, Balciunaite and her coach, Romas Sausaitis, held a press conference.
“I’m not guilty. I never used dope and I’ll never use it,” Balciunaite said. “All her results are achieved due to hard work,” Sausaitis echoed.
Balciunaite explained that the level of testosterone could become higher due to usage of dufaston, which is the drug easing menses. Use of dufaston is not forbidden by the WADA. She said that she had ‘one of those days’ on July 31 and explained why she needed to use dufaston.
“I’m usually dead before menses. I cannot move my legs. And then my weight increases like the weight of a pig,” Balciunaite said, who’s weight on competition days is usually some 43.5 kilograms. “I started my sports career during my maturation period and this is why I’m having problems with menses. My gynecologist has prescribed for me dufaston, an officially allowed drug easing menses, since 2003.” Balciunaite said, adding that on July 31, her menses started when she was running the 22nd kilometer, i.e. in the middle of the marathon distance, and menses could cause the jump in testosterone levels.
The IAAF states that no information about some findings of illegal drugs, banned in sports, came from the WADA in Balciunaite’s case, just information on the testosterone level, which was slightly above the norm.