By Danny Schrafel
Mo Trafeh, a dominant figure at the Great Cow Harbor 10K race in recent years, is retiring from track and field just months before his 29th birthday under the cloud of a doping scandal.
Organizers of the Northport race, however, said that Trafeh’s absence will make little difference to the success of the iconic event that he dominated from 2009 to 2012.
Trafeh, an eight-time U.S. Road champion and former U.S. 25K record-holder from Duarte, Calif., admitted in a statement to buying Erythropoietin (EPO), a peptide hormone that is produced naturally by the human body. EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production, which can increase the amount of oxygen the blood carries to the body’s muscles. The substance is banned by the United States Olympic Committee.
Trafeh’s efforts for a fifth consecutive Cow Harbor win came up short in 2013, when he finished eighth after sustaining a hamstring injury months earlier.
In a statement, Trafeh said that he has continued to struggle with injuries, and admitted to buying EPO “so that I could train in effort to return to my previous form,” running news blog LetsRun.com reported June 26.
“During my return trip home after purchasing the EPO, I was stopped by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and they discovered the banned substance. Since that time, they have initiated formal proceedings against me and threatened to impose a lifetime ban,” the athlete said in a statement provided by his attorney, Jonathan LaCour.
However, Trafeh has denied he has ever engaged in doping, and said that, since 2008, he has never failed a drug test. According to published reports, he’s been tested 24 times, with no positive results. He has also denied using EPO, but said he decided to retire because of the financial strain litigating the case would place on his family.
Great Cow Harbor 10K Race organizer Rich Boziwick declined Tuesday to comment on Trafeh’s case as related to his performance at the race. Boziwick did say that he does not expect Trafeh’s absence to have much impact on the race’s success, which dates back to 1977 and drew 5,500 runners and thousands of spectators to the streets of Northport Village last year.
This year’s race is scheduled for Sept. 20, and registrations are already being accepted. Northport Village traditionally holds a parade and street festival the day after the race.
“This is not the type of [event] where, if Tiger Woods is not playing, attendance is going down. He doesn’t have that sort of draw,” Boziwick said. “You won’t see any major change whatsoever.”