Peter Bol has locked in his return race in his comeback from the drug test controversy that threatened to end his athletics career.
Almost a month after Bol’s provisional suspension for returning a positive A sample for the drug erythropoietin (EPO) was lifted, Wide World of Sports can reveal the Australian 800-metre star will make his comeback in Atlanta, Georgia on May 6.
Bol will compete in the adidas Atlanta City Games 600 metres, a unique race to be held on the streets of Centennial Olympic Park.
PAUL GALLEN: How Bennett knocked down ‘humiliated’ legend
READ MORE: ‘Glaring’ solution to alarming Panthers slide
READ MORE: Piastri’s Formula 1 debut ends in disaster
Wide World of Sports can also confirm Bol will not feature in the ongoing Australian domestic season.
He aims to contest August’s world championships but will chase a qualifying time for the Budapest major on the European circuit.
Bol’s manager, James Templeton, says “it just makes sense” for the 29-year-old to return to racing at a low-key meet like the Atlanta event.
“It’ll be a chance to gauge his shape and fitness, and you probably wouldn’t want to jump straight back into a Diamond League. Funnily enough, that Atlanta meet is the same day as Doha (the Doha Diamond League meet). I had no thought of putting him into Doha that same day,” Templeton told Wide World of Sports.
“When adidas, who have been very supportive of Pete throughout this saga, suggested their Atlanta race as a good low-key option to return to racing I said, ‘Sounds great and I think Pete will be keen’. I spoke to Pete and he said, ‘That’s perfect’.
“It’s all about getting yourself back in the game. We’ll fly over to Atlanta two or three days before. He’ll feel the buzz. Even though it’s a low-key event, he’ll love being back in the business.
“We’ll kick on to Europe. His training will be picking up nicely by then. We’ll get onto the more regular European races either right at the end of May or early June.”
Bol was cleared to return to racing, as well as training with his coach, Justin Rinaldi, and his Fast 8 Track Club teammates on February 14.
He could have raced at Melbourne’s Maurie Plant meet on February 23, and looming in the near future is the Australian track-and-field championships in Brisbane, to be held between March 30 and April 2.
But Templeton stressed the importance of Bol taking his time in his comeback.
“Let’s acknowledge that Pete’s had two months of anguish,” Templeton said.
“So, don’t be in a hurry. Sometimes after big events you think, ‘Oh, it’s fine, I’m over it, I’m ready or whatever’.
“Atlanta is basically two months away, but the Australian nationals are in three weeks. Why rush? What for? We have an exemption from competing in the nationals. He needs to get a qualifying time for the world championships and we’ll attempt to do that in Europe. He is very much motivated for Budapest.”
Seebohm: Last month ‘hell’ for Bol
Bol was provisionally suspended when he returned a positive A sample for EPO on January 14, the result of an out-of-competition urine test taken on October 11.
But the two-time Olympian was cleared to resume racing, and training with his team, when his B sample did not match the A sample.
Despite being cleared to return, Sport Integrity Australia and Athletics Australia released statements which said Bol was still being investigated. Their reasoning was Bol’s B sample had produced an atypical finding, which is neither positive nor negative.
Bol competed in the 800 metres at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
He twice broke the Australian 800-metre record en route to the final in Tokyo, and won his semi-final heat, before finishing fourth in the decider.
Bol’s daring front-running in Tokyo captured the awe of millions of Australians.
He led at the bell in the final and sat in second as the field entered the home straight, before fading and missing out on a medal by 0.53 of a second.
He’s since lowered his Australian 800-metre record to 1:44.00, posted at a Paris Diamond League meet in June 2022.
He secured silver in the 800 metres at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Bol is determined to take on the world’s best at August’s world championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!