Gran Fondo New York Gives Lifetime Ban to Two Amateur Cyclists for EPO
- By Aristo
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Two South American cyclists tested positive for a banned blood boosting drug.
Amateur cyclists Gabriel Raff (Argentina) and Felipe Mendez (Colombia) were given lifetime suspensions by the Gran Fondo New York organization. Both cyclists tested positive for recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) during out-of-competition drug tests administered prior to the GFNY World Championship in New York City on May 19, 2019.
Raff and Mendez are prohibited from competing at any GFNY in the future. GFNY events are held around the world with competitions in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Colombi, Portugal, Italy, Israel and several other locations.
The lifetime ban only applies to GFNY events. Sports federations and organizations that have adopted World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules will also recognize the anti-doping violation. But Raff and Mendez will likely only face a limited period of ineligibility of four years or less in those competitions.
GFNY drug testing targets athletes most likely to win.
Raff and Mendez were supposedly randomly selected for anti-doping controls. But they were actually targeted in a pool of 60 participants who were considered most likely to win their age group and/or place in the top ten.
The GFNY Global Cycling Marathon Series is one of the few amateur events that routinely tests competitors for prohibited performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The anti-doping controls also include out-of-competition testing.
Uli Fluhme, the chief executive officer of GFNY, believes that doping is just as serious a violation as course cutting. While this is debatable, GFNY has treated doping as a very serious problem.
“We don’t allow course cutting at our races so why would we look the other way when it comes to doping?” asked Fluhme.
GFNY has administered anti-doping controls since 2012. GFNY estimated that it spends well over $15,000 per year on drug testing.
Seven athletes have received lifetime suspensions from GFNY events including Raff and Mendez. Age-group winners David Anthony and Gabriele Guarini tested positive for EPO in 2012. Overall winer Oscar Tovar and third-place women’s finisherYamile Lugo both tested positive for the anabolic steroid testosterone in 2015. And Manuel Serrano Plowells tested positive for EPO in 2017.
GFNY takes an extremely hard stance against anti-doping. In addition to issuing lifetime bans to anti-doping rule violators, GFNY requires that dopers pay additional financial penalties.
Banned athletes are required to reimburse GFNY for the costs of the anti-doping tests. And they are also required to financially compensate GFNY for any reputational damage that results from the negative publicity.
It seems unlikely that any athletes with a lifetime suspension would bother to fulfill those financial penalties.