Olympics-Athletics-Britain's Butchart gets suspended ban in 'faked' COVID test row


Athletics - World Athletics Championships - Doha 2019 - Men's 5000 Metres Heats - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - September 27, 2019 Britain's Andrew Butchart reacts REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

(Reuters) - Britain's 5,000 metres runner Andrew Butchart will compete in the Tokyo Olympics after UK Athletics handed him a suspended ban for saying he had changed the date on a COVID-19 test result to return to Britain from a meet before clarifying his remarks.

In a now-deleted episode of The Sunday Plodcast, Butchart had said there was a delay in getting his PCR test result before his flight home from the United States and he had changed the date on an old test as he prepared for check-in, the Times newspaper had reported.

"Everybody has faked PCR tests... to try to go somewhere, because it's just so hard," Scot Butchart was quoted as saying in the podcast. The 29-year-old later told the newspaper that he had "perhaps glorified the situation for the podcast".

He apologised to Team GB and the Tokyo organisers.

"Following widely publicised comments by Andrew Butchart on a podcast regarding the alleged faking of COVID tests, he was charged with misconduct by UK Athletics for making statements likely to bring athletics into disrepute," UK Athletics said in a statement.

UK Athletics said an independent disciplinary committee had issued Butchart with a 12-month ban from athletics, suspended for a period of two years, and fined him 5,000 pounds ($6,886). It said he can compete in the Tokyo Games.

It also warned him about his future conduct and asked him to issue a public written apology to the body.

Butchart had told The Times that he never faked the test and it came through on time.

"I used the example of athletes I know having to use previous PCR results to get through check-in but not immigration," he had said. "... I haven't done this but know of people who have."

The Tokyo Games, delayed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, begin on July 23.

($1 = 0.7261 pounds)

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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