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Monday 06, Oct 2014

  Reduced Sanction For Disgraced SA Cyclist

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The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has announced a two-month reduction in the doping sanction of cyclist David George who tested positive for EPO in 2012.

George was cleared to compete last month after he provided substantial assistance to SAIDS. The reduction was in line with the SA Anti-Doping Rules (Article 10.5.3) where an athlete provides substantial assistance to an Anti-Doping Authority. The same panel that ruled on George’s initial sanction evaluated the substantial assistance submission application by the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport on behalf of the athlete and accepted the substantial nature and quality of the assistance.

The detailed reasoned decision has been sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency, Cycling South Africa, and the UCI (the world governing body of cycling). These entities have the right to appeal the reduction in sanction if they are not satisfied that the assistance provided by the athlete did not satisfy the criteria as outlined in the Anti-Doping Rules.

George, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong, failed an out-of-competition test on August 29 for Erythropoietin (EPO). Erythropoietin has the ability of increasing the count of red blood cells and can improve the oxygen carrying capacity of the body. Announcing the positive test, SAIDS chief executive Khalid Galant said the cyclist’s biological passport indicated suspicious activity and that triggered a targeted test for EPO and added that a subsequent urine test came back positive for the banned EPO drug. Galant also remarked George’s biological passport, which analyses the athletes blood profile indicated suspicious activity and that triggered a targeted test for EPO. EPO testing gives us a window of between 6 and 12 hours for testing because that’s how long it will show up in a test.

The South African cyclist did not ask for his B sample to be tested and accepted his punishment. In a statement, George said he knows the result will ultimately be the same and this decision will be communicated to Cycling South Africa (CSA) and Drug-Free Sport shortly and according to protocol. Apologizing to his sponsors, George had remarked Cycling, as you know, has been a confusing space, and although it has given him incredible moments it has also given him experiences that no person or young athlete should have to go through.

David George represented South Africa at two Olympics, in 1996 and 2000. The cyclist won silver in the road race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and bronze in the time trial in the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998. The marathon mountain biker competed for Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service from 1999-2000. George made a successful transition from the road to mountain biking. The cyclist won the overall in the MTN Ultra Marathon series, Old Mutual Joberg2c and the BoE Sani2c stage race. George moved to the Tacconi Sport Vini Caldirola team after turning pro with US Postal in 1999 and spending two years there. The cyclist then moved to the Tacconi Sport Vini Caldirola team and then to the CCC Polsat squad. The cyclist competed with Team Barloworld between 2003 and 2005, but was initially without a pro team for 2006.

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Wednesday 12, Feb 2014

  Cyclist ‘Suspends Himself’ After Muddle With SAIDS

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Cyclist ‘Suspends Himself’ After Muddle With SAIDS

Brandon Stewart has suspended himself after a muddle for 11 months with the South African Institute of Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS), according to an announcement by sponsors of the FedGroup Itec Pro Mountain Biking team.

Cycling South Africa informed the former Absa Cape Epic African jersey leader and SA Cross Country champion in October that he had tested positive for a banned substance after a routine drug test four months earlier. Stewart was told he faced the possibility of a ban from cycling. On the other hand, Stewart’s sponsors said the positive drug test was due to the cyclist taking a medically necessary testosterone treatment and Stewart informed SAIDS while applying for a therapeutic use exemption.

Brandon Stewart, one of South Africa’s top marathon mountain biking talents and festival regulars, was a part of Team FedGroup-Itec after Team 360Life withdrew their sponsorship of the team after David George tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO). The marathon mountain biker received a ban of two years from the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport and the cyclist was being targeted after his biological passport showed suspicious activity.

FedGroup chief financial officer Scott Field remarked while we fully support initiatives aimed at ensuring that South African sport is drug-free, Stewart’s unpleasant experience has resulted in his voluntarily suspending himself and could hold serious negative implications for sport in general. FedGroup remarked the cyclist had consultations with a doctor a year ago after bouts of depression and mood swings and he was told that his levels of testosterone were on the lower side. After this, Brandon Stewart had consultation with the SAIDS exemption liaison official, Anique Coetzee, who advised to go for a testosterone treatment after which the cyclist applied online for an exemption to use the medication. Coetzee told Stewart on phone that he could undergo the treatment and continue to race while waiting for a response to the application, which was confirmed in writing.

In a statement, FedGroup said Stewart received an e-mail two months after making his application telling him that his application had been declined and the e–mail recommended that Stewart have further tests done. The cyclist maintains he stopped taking the testosterone treatment, Nebido,in April. Three months after the first reports by the endocrinologist had been submitted,, Stewart was informed in July that his second exemption application had also been denied. The statement read that two days prior to receipt of this July e-mail, one of the SAIDS’s routine drug tests had been done on Stewart and he had been off the Nebido treatment for three months and in October, four months after the drug test in July, Stewart was informed by Cycling SA that he had tested positive for a banned substance. The cyclist appealed against the decision and the FedGroup statement said all of the major sponsors of the team are comfortable that everything Brandon did was above board and Stewart has kept us informed and retains our confidence and trust.

Khalid Galant, the chief executive of SAIDS, remarked a preliminary investigation was under way and a decision on whether or not to charge Stewart with doping would be made the by end of this month.

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Wednesday 19, Dec 2012

  Lifetime Bans For Doping Imposed By Cape Epic

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Lifetime Bans For Doping Imposed By Cape Epic

In the wake of the first high-profile doping case in South African mountain biking, the Absa Cape Epic is tightening its rules regarding anti-doping by introducing a lifetime ban for future offenders.

Race founder Kevin Vermaak said any athlete (professional or amateur) as of January 1, 2013 caught using performance enhancing substances, whether at another event or out of competition, will be banned for life from participating in the Cape Epic. Vermaak added that the athletes found doping will not only be stopped from participating (as an amateur rider or UCI-licensed elite), but the individual will also be banned from being involved on any level including as a team manager. He went on to add that this is harsher than what is required currently by any federation, but is our considered opinion of what should be enforced even on a wider scale with regards to event participation of convicted dope cheats.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) in November made an announcement that top cyclist and Cape Epic contender, David George, had tested positive for the banned drug, EPO (Erythropoietin) and would face a charge of doping at an independent tribunal. The cyclist was officially given a ban of two years and he has been prohibited from cycling professionally for this time period. It was indicated by the SAIDS that only results dating back to August 29 this year can be erased, which means that the 2012 Cape Epic results of David George will remain unaffected. George has finished in second place overall in this year’s Cape Epic with his riding partner Kevin Evans that was George’s best performance in the event to date. The South African cyclist has also won the African Jersey at the Cape Epic three times (2008, 2009, and 2012) and, together with Evans, was a strong contender to be the first all South African team to win the race next year.

The race founder of the Absa Cape Epic also remarked that we have chosen not to apply this retrospectively because we believe that would be naive. He said cycling has a dark past as has been exposed in the recent months and many riders from the previous era has rediscovered the joy associated with cycling as mountain bikers and participate in the Cape Epic as their expression of riding clean. Vermaak further added that previous offenders, who have served their suspension term, may ride future Cape Epics and we want to a part of the new era of cleaner cycling, and therefore only future offenders will receive the lifetime bans. He also remarked that the Cape Epic has invested more than R800,000 into its anti-doping program at the race since it was awarded UCI HC status and to date have only recorded one positive in-competition test at the event by an amateur. The positive test delivered came from amateur cyclist Wayne Collin, who tested positive for the anabolic agent Boldenone and a diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide in the most recent edition. The cyclist is set to appear before the SAIDS tribunal on January 24, 2013.

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Wednesday 07, Nov 2012

  South Africa’s Foremost Cyclist Delivers Positive Test

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South Africa’s Foremost Cyclist Delivers Positive Test

David George, one of South Africa’s foremost cyclists, has tested positive for the banned drug Erythropoietin (EPO) and will now face a charge of doping.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) chief executive, Khalid Galant said the blood test of George showed suspicious activity with regard to possible manipulation of the blood profile and and a subsequent urine test came back positive for EPO. Gallant added that EPO testing gives a window of between six and 12 hours for testing and George’s biological passport, which analyses the athlete’s blood profile, indicated suspicious activity.

EPO artificially increases the red blood cell count and therefore increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the body and enhances performance and is extremely useful in endurance sports where athletes are competing over long distances in sports like cycling, running, and triathlon.

The cyclist admitted to doping and said he would not challenge the test by asking for the B sample to be tested. The cyclist, as a result of the finding, received a provisional suspension with immediate effect from competing in any event and the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport will subject him to an independent tribunal to investigate the doping charge. The South African cyclist has a long record of achievement in local cycling circles after competing in three Olympics and finishing on the podium at the 2012 Absa Cape Epic.

William Newman, president of Cycling South Africa said the independence of the SAIDS process is respected by Cycling South Africa and the outcome will be respected and added that Cycling South Africa further reiterates its zero tolerance to doping in sport and confirms that there is no evidence of this being a problem in the sport in South Africa.

The suspension of George prompted  Nedbank to immediately announce the suspension of Team 360Life – its sponsored professional cycling team. Tabby Tsengiwe of the bank’s group communications said Nedbank has a zero tolerance towards the use of any banned substances or performance enhancing drugs and does not condone or support such use in any sport.

The cyclist teamed up with disgraced cycling icon Lance Armstrong when he competed for the US Postal Service cycling team between 1999 and 2000.

After the admission by George, Supplement supplier USN, one of SA’s biggest cycling sponsors, announced that they had terminated their relationship with David George. The sponsor said USN has a zero tolerance policy on doping in sport and the commitment of the company can be measured from the fact that it only supplies its elite and professional ambassadors with products that have been certified as being free of prohibited substances on the World Anti-doping Association (WADA) list by HFL Sport Science in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, organizers of the ABSA Cape Epic have confirmed that that they will be consulting their lawyers and stakeholders to find out what steps to take against the top SA rider and former African Jersey winner, David George. Race founder Kevin Vermaak said the Absa Cape Epic will determine the appropriate steps to take with regards to George’s titles and prize money that amounted to R142 500.

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