US age-group triathlete banned for doping competing in ultras under maiden name


Exclusive for 303Triathlon

By Tim Heming

A US age-group triathlete banned for four years for doping is now competing in ultra marathons under her maiden name.

Holly Balogh, 46, a Kona qualifier and Ironman All World Athlete champion in 2014 and 2015, tested positive for exogenous testosterone after winning her age-group at Ironman Texas last summer.

The mum-of-two from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, trained under the highly reputable purplepatch Fitness, headed up by British coach Matt Dixon. It is believed a whistleblower alerted the drug enforcement agency USADA..

However, despite the ban, Balogh is now entered under her maiden name Hancock for the Old Pueblo ultra, a 50-mile race taking place this weekend in Sonoita, Arizona. The race is not thought to be governed by World Anti-Doping Association rules, and the organiser has not yet replied to requests for comment.

The use of any exogenous anabolic androgenic steroid is prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code and Balogh did not apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

“It is unfortunate that Ms. Balogh chose to disregard the education, advice and knowledge she had regarding anti-doping and instead competed in violation of the Ironman Anti-Doping Rules,” said Kate Mittelstadt, Director of the Ironman Anti-Doping Program. “We applaud the decisions of the athlete support personnel to step forward, first to report Ms. Balogh’s use with disregard to their advice, and also for the conviction to include anti-doping awareness in their coaching. They each recognised the importance of honoring their obligations under the anti-doping rules and cooperated with Ironman’s investigation.”

Balogh initially challenged the verdict, before later dropping her case. A source who did not want to be named said: “To cut a long story short, she’s a type A person who became more obsessive through triathlon.

“She was a mid-level triathlete with a dream to go to Kona and a strong work ethic, but something changed around 2013. She injured herself through overtraining, but raced too soon and re-fractured her leg. She found a doctor who told her there is a pharmaceutical cure to her problem, when the problem is a mental one: she just can’t rest.

“It sounds like this new coaching group either saw something in her performance or she told them what she was doing. I suspect the latter because she was not terribly shy about this claiming it was for ‘medical reasons’.”

Balogh, a real estate manager who trained up to 25 hours a week, said finishing the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2014 was “the coolest experience of my life. That gets me a little emotional when I think about.”

Her failed samples from Texas comprised her only drug test of  2016. For comparison, Tim O’Donnell, the professional Ironman, was the most tested triathlete by USADA (15 times), with professionals responsible for the lionshare of tests.

Matt Dixon, head coach of purplepatch, said, “purplepatch has a very clear policy on any use of PED, as well as what we would see as potential ‘abuse’ of TUE with the aim of gaining a performance advantage.  We make it clear to each athlete, beginning with a set of commitments with our professional team, as well as information and education to all the amateurs who utilize our coaching services. … This global purplepatch policy applies to every athlete we help, and we find that establishing this policy ahead of time, and revisiting periodically, allows our primary focus to be channeled to our passion, namely, to help athletes improve and flourish.”

I asked Balogh via her new Twitter account whether she thought it was morally right to race in an ultra event while serving a doping suspension. I cited her tweet: ‘Interesting times right now, I will begin anew now, today, despite the insanity around me.’ Her response was to block me from following her or viewing her tweets.

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  1. Dan Bailey

    Yeah, Lance Armstrong is also there competing, if that gives you any indication of how they’re applying WADA rulings.

  2. David Mauger

    Got no problem with here and this article not explicit in terms of what she was taking was for bonafide condition or what. So if you get banned for testing positive for prohibited substances does that mean you can’t enter and compete in other races…even under her maiden name? Let’s face it…she’s not world elite in terms of the blood and other doping practices used for Olympics or world competition races. And not clear just how many races have testing for age-group winners whether simple marathon races or Iron Man competitions. She’s just a mortal, but front-end competitor…. I support she goes on…just can’t do the races that acknowledge the ban imposed. I want this woman to keep on entering races…for whatever purpose…whatever name!

    • David

      you are so ridiculous. so it is okay because she is not going to olympics or world competition races, to go compete in ultras and take someone else’s spot in the race standings by performing with her cheating performance? she should not be allowed to compete in any competition because every competition has finishing times and standings, and if she takes part with her cheating performance, she is taking away that spot from someone who worked hard without cheating.

    • John Harris

      it was explicit about what she was taking and why, and there is a way to get exempted if it is a true medical condition. She did neither. Stop being an apologist.

    • gw

      It is hard to get what you’re saying because I’m not sure English is your first language, but I THINK you’re saying that this is an ok thing. This is not an OK thing. She’s a cheater, and she’s continuing to cheat anyone in her age group.

  3. Bo

    No TUE allowed for Testosterone for female athletes.

  4. Lovedawg

    The event promoter has communicated that he spoke to her on Wed evening and she has been removed from the entrant list. Keep Ultra Clean!

  5. Chuck

    Cheating discourages participation, the ability to attract sponsorship, and the street credibility with the public. Period. As a participant, previous promoter, previously active in governance, an advocate of the endurance sport lifestyle, no matter if your cheating is from doping, mechanical, or cutting the course, your actions hurt me and your community. I have no tolerance nor forgiveness for such behavior. I have compassion for the life circumstances that may have lead to your decision, but that is not to be used as an excuse. Please stop participating while doped or under regulation as continuing to do so shows a complete disregard of others, certainly is unethical if not pathetic, and definitively proves that you have no integrity.

  6. aceofbase

    Cheating is allowed/tolerated in NFL, MLB,NBA and they don’t have any problems securing sponsorship.

    • Mak Cathcart

      How specifically is cheating allowed? Tolerated?
      The real problem with cheating, especially using drugs, is that the impact and benefit is sustained over years and hurts many people, not least the people that get beaten by the cheats. In age group races more so than professional, depriving people by cheating can have a much more lasting impact.
      See also my follow-up. It turns out Julie Miller, the course-cutter extraordinary from 2016, is also competing in ultras. While we can’t expect these people to completely abandon training and keeping fit, it’s disappointing that they feel they are still able to trade on past “victories”.

    • Mitch

      Ding ding ding…….I just can’t get a work up over this.


  1. Ultramarathon Daily News, Fri, Mar 3 – Ultramarathon News, Podcasts, and Product Reviews - […] Doped and busted triathlete now competing in trail ultramarathons.  Boo!!! […]

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