Hong Kong's Ivan Lo fails to defend triathlon title over doping protocol breach
Local star is notable absentee from international event in Tsim Sha Tsui as he lodges appeal
Top athlete Ivan Lo Ching-hin failed to defend his title at the New World International Triathlon in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday over what is believed to be a doping protocol breach.
The 26-year-old has kept a low profile since urging the Triathlon Association in April to have an "improved athletes selection policy" after the sport was demoted to "tier B" at the Hong Kong Sports Institute as a result of falling standards.
Spain's world number two Mario Mola won the event on Sunday but Lo was conspicuous by his absence, with inquiries revealing he was suspended by the association because he had failed the Hong Kong Anti-Doping Committee's (ADC) whereabouts requirements for out-of-competition testing.
"I heard it is nothing to do with whether Lo had taken any banned substance but rather infringing the whereabouts rule," said one Hong Kong coach.
"We don't know the result yet and have to wait until the appeal is over before any information can be disclosed."
Athletes are required to provide their up-to-date and accurate whereabouts information so they can be located for spot tests. Failing to comply is an anti-doping rule violation.
However, Lo's name is not on the ADC's sanction list because he is reportedly appealing over his case.
The 26-year-old has been a key figure in the senior squad, leading Hong Kong to a fourth position in the mixed team at last year's Asian Games in Incheon.
Association president Fenella Ng Gar-loc said it was a matter for the ADC.
"Any sanction would be for the ADC to impose in accordance with their rules," said Ng.
Despite Lo's absence, Hong Kong athletes performed admirably in the men's elite race along the Tsim Shan Tsui waterfront with Coggins Oscar finishing just one second behind Mola and Abraham Kok Yu-hang sealing third place.
Mola, who won the world grand final in Chicago in September, clocked 54 minutes and 28 seconds in the 750-metre swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
In the women's race, Yuliya Yelistratova, of Ukraine, won in one hour, six minutes and 10 seconds in her third appearance in Hong Kong.
She was followed by Lorna Hoi of Macau, with third place going to Spain's Carolina Routier.
Two-time Olympian Yelistratova said her target is to reach next year's Rio Games.
"It's a great experience racing in an urban area and I enjoy myself every time I compete in Hong Kong," she said.
"I will soon start my preparation for the Rio Games and my target is to reach the top 10."