A British amateur cyclist who served as a policeman in Bermuda has been banned for cycling for two years after testing positive for EPO. According to Bermuda newspaper the Royal Gazette, suspicions had been raised among local cyclists by a noticeable improvement in performance by Damien Sharpe, who regularly gained podium places in races on the island this year.
Sharp, who has now reportedly returned to the UK, admitted using EPO and waived his right to a hearing, reports the newspaper. His ban runs till 17 August 2013.
Despite the suspicions of his fellow riders, a statement from the Bermuda Bicycle Association (BBA) revealed that Sharp had been caught by random, rather than targeted, testing.
“As with many sporting bodies, the BBA’s members are subject to random testing and during one of these tests it was confirmed that an athlete was in violation of the anti-doping regulations,” it said.
“Doping at any level of sport is cheating and this was a clear instance of an individual attempting to gain an competitive edge by cheating.
“It is a shock to the BBA and a disservice to the sport of cycling that a recreational athlete should choose to resort to such illegal and immoral methods in order to gain advantage in local races.
“Though the athlete has since left Bermuda, all relevant cycling governing bodies have been informed of the violation and will enforce the ban as they see fit.”
Bermuda Sports Anti Doping Authority (BADSA) are obligated to publicly name any sportsman caught taking a performance enhancing drug by the World Anti Doping Authority.
Cathy Belvedere, executive director of the Bermuda Sports Anti Doping Authority (BADSA), said: “It is very disappointing when we find that an athlete has cheated.
“However, it is even more disconcerting when we find out that the substance is as dangerous and sophisticated as EPO. This high risk substance with dangerous affects on the human body was being used by an athlete competing in a mid level local competition.”
Sharp is believed to have bought the EPO in the United States, and it was the US Anti-doping Agency that alerted BADSA to him, reports the Royal Gazette, and the British national’s home anti-doping agency also became involved in the case, said Belvedere.
“We can confirm that the test was conducted in co-operation with UK Anti Doping and USADA, the US anti-doping agency. A clear demonstration that anti-doping organisations worldwide, can and do work together. Increasingly, globally, dopers have nowhere to hide.
“This case highlights the importance of cooperation between National Anti Doping Organisations and how information sharing can be used to successfully identify and ultimately bring sanctions to doping athletes,” she continued.
“There will be efforts in the very near future to establish protocols and procedures with our local interdiction agencies to ensure that our collection of information and the ability to share is reciprocal globally.”
Bermuda sports website Islandstats.com obtained a statement from Sharp’s former employers which read: "The Bermuda Police Service can confirm that Mr. Sharp is no longer an employee. Although EPO is on the list of banned substances issued by some sporting bodies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Cycling Union, possession does not constitute a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.