George admits to doping
David George (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Cycling champion David George on Tuesday admitted to having used the banned drug EPO (Erythropoietin) and said he was prepared to suffer the consequences.
"I will not be asking for a B sample to be tested as I know the result will ultimately be the same," George said in a statement.
"I fully understand the consequences of my admission and will bear the results of this."
George tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test conducted by the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) on August 29.
"Cycling, as you know, has been a confusing space and although it has given me incredible moments it has also given me experiences that no person or young athlete should have to go through," George said.
"I would like to apologise to my sponsors, who have given me every opportunity to chase a dream, and team-mates, for whom I have the utmost respect. I will endeavour to make right where humanly possible."
One of South Africa's top cyclists, he is a former Olympian, a podium finisher in the Cape Epic, and a former Lance Armstrong team-mate on the United States Postal Service Cycling team 1999-2000.
EPO is a hormone which increases the red blood cell count, thereby increasing the athlete's oxygen-carrying capacity and enhancing performance.
"The drug is especially beneficial in endurance sports where athletes are competing over long distances in sports like cycling, running and triathlon," SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant said.
"We had warned the sports community a year ago that we would be vigorous in our testing of both blood and urine of our top athletes. We will continue to aggressively target EPO dopers."
George was suspended with immediate effect from competing in any event while the SAIDS process took its course, said Cycling SA.
"We respect the independence of the SAIDS process and will respect the outcome," Cycling SA president William Newman said.
"Cycling SA further reiterates its zero-tolerance to doping in sport, and confirms that there is no evidence of this being an endemic problem in the sport in South Africa."
Meanwhile, Nedbank reacted to the news of George's positive doping test, by suspending its sponsored professional cycling team, Team 360Life, for which he rode.
"The suspension of the team will continue until further notice," spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe said in a statement.
She said Nedbank did not tolerate the use of banned substances or performance-enhancing drugs and supported the SAIDS, Cycling SA and Union Cycliste International in promoting clean conduct in the sport.