Top SA cyclist tests positive
Cape Town - Cycling champion David George has tested positive for the banned drug EPO (Erythropoietin), the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) said on Tuesday.
"George will face a charge of doping at an independent tribunal," the SAIDS said in a statement.
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.
He tested positive in an out-of-competition test conducted by the SAIDS on August 29.
"The blood test showed suspicious activity with regard to possible manipulation of the blood profile, and a subsequent urine test came back positive for the banned EPO drug," said the SAIDS' CEO Khalid Galant.
"His biological passport, which analyses the athlete's blood profile, indicated suspicious activity and that triggered a targeted test for EPO."
Galant said EPO testing had a window period of between six and 12 hours, as that was the length of time during which it would show up in a test.
EPO is a hormone which artificially 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," 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 provisionally 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," said William Newman, the president of Cycling SA.
"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 immediately 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 had a zero-tolerance towards the use of any banned substances or performance enhancing drugs and supported the SAIDS, Cycling SA and Union Cycliste International in promoting clean conduct in the cycling fraternity.