SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has announced that South African cycling champion, David George, who tested positive for the banned drug EPO (Erythropoietin) has received a two year ban from sport, following sentencing on Saturday.
“George waived his right to attend his hearing, which went ahead anyway on 1 Dec,” says Khalid Galant, CEO, Institute for Drug-Free Sport. “He admitted guilt prior to the hearing and preferred the sanction to be determined as soon as possible. The athlete has the right to waive his participation in a hearing without prejudice.”
The hearing was conducted by an independent tribunal. “In addition to the ban, any points or prize money obtained after the 29th Aug is forfeited and monies have to be repaid,” Galant adds. “Money has to be repaid to race organisers of the Cape Pioneer Trek MTB race, which David George/ Kevin Evans won after Aug 29th and results will have to be re-issued.”
Commenting on the sentence George received, Galant says: “George claims his EPO doping was isolated to himself and he could not provide us with information in terms of an infrastructure of doping. Hence he received the standard two-year ban, as there were no grounds for a reduction in this sanction.”
However, Galant says that George has committed to assist SAIDS in its test planning so that SAIDS target testing can be even more robust in addressing doping in endurance sport. “As a former professional cyclist he provides a unique lens into how our test distribution planning can mitigate against high doping risk periods and what is going through the minds of athletes when they attempt to beat the system,” he says. “We welcome this commitment from George as part of attempt to atone for the doping offense to the cycling community.”
SAIDS warned the sports community a year ago that they would be vigorous in their testing of both the blood and urine of SA's top athletes. “We will continue to aggressively target EPO dopers and we will be increasing 'out of competition' testing of cyclists for EPO, a hormone that artificially increases the red blood cell count therefore increases the athlete’s oxygen carrying capacity, and, in turn, enhances performance,” says Galant.
Galant says that SAIDS will be increasing the quantity of testing not only to cycling but also to other endurance sports like triathlon, running and canoeing. “The monies pledged by Nedbank and other companies to clean up sport will be exclusively used for testing,” he adds.
George, one of SA’s top cyclists, a former Olympian, a podium finisher in the Cape Epic, and a former Lance Armstrong teammate on the US Postal Service Cycling team 1999-2000, tested positive in an out-of-competition test conducted by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport on 29 August 2012.
The athlete biological passport is an essential tool in the fight against doping. “His biological passport, which analyses the athletes blood profile, indicated suspicious activity that triggered a targeted EPO test which showed possible manipulation of the blood profile and a subsequent urine test came back positive for the banned EPO drug,” says Galant.