French marathoner named to Olympic team gets two-year doping ban

2:05 marathoner Mehdi Frère has been handed a two-year suspension for missing three doping tests within a year.

French marathon runner Mehdi Frère, recently named to France’s Olympic team for the men’s marathon, has been banned for two years for breaching anti-doping rules, his lawyer told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday. Frère’s suspension is due to a whereabouts offence (missing three doping tests within one year).

Frère’s personal best of 2:05:43 makes him the second-fastest marathoner in French history and the ninth-fastest European. He set this time at the 2023 Valencia Marathon, where he finished ninth. In May, Frère was named to the French Olympic marathon team alongside Morhad Amdouni and Nicolas Navarro. The Fédération Française d’Athlétisme (FFA) has opted for a conditional selection of Frère (instead of selecting another athlete) during the appeal process.

According to the AFP, Frère plans to appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and believes a decision before the Olympics is possible. “We’ll be able to refer the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as part of an accelerated procedure, to obtain an arbitration award by July 26, the opening day of the Olympics,” his lawyer told AFP.

During the appeal process, Frère is ineligible to compete, and he could face a longer ban if he loses the appeal. The men’s marathon is scheduled for Aug. 10, the penultimate day of the Paris 2024 calendar.

Frère is the latest recipient of a whereabouts suspension, which has affected some of the most high-profile distance runners this year. Spanish distance runner Mohamed Katir was suspended earlier this year, also for a whereabouts offence. Katir launched an appeal, then admitted to the wrongdoing, accepting a two-year ban–meaning he won’t be competing for his country at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

posted Tuesday July 9th
by Marley Dickison