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UK Anti-Doping expresses sympathy with Belgian's plight but says circumstances did not constiutute "compelling justification"...

Metaltek Scott rider Marcel Six has been banned for 18 months by UK Anti Doping (UKAD) after refusing to provide a urine sample following the Halfords Tour Series round at Canary Wharf in May this year. In his defence, the Belgian rider, who had been called up to race that afternoon, said that he had to leave the venue immediately afterwards because his wife was locked out of their home and their son was ill.

While the decision of UKAD’s National Anti-Doping Panel suggests that its members were to some extent sympathetic to Six’s plight, the sanction imposed does send out a clear and unequivocal message that riders are required to follow the letter of the law when it comes to complying with testing procedures.

In UKAD’s full decision, it is revealed that cycling had become “a bone of contention” between Six, who races as an amateur, and his wife Chevone, who insisted that their children and her job should come first.

A nurse also provided a statement to the effect that Mrs Six suffered from “ongoing mood and anxiety-related symptoms,” which were “consistently worse at times when she is alone” meaning that she “relies heavily on her husband / partner.”

The nurse added that it was “fair to suspect that her symptoms may deteriorate should her husband be asked to work away from home.”

The panel accepted that on the day in question, 31 May 2012, Six “had not expected to be racing… and had made none of the domestic arrangements that he should have done. When – at a late stage – he was asked to race, he agreed to do so to avoid letting down his team.”

Finishing the race in 11th place, Six was selected for a random doping control – only riders from the top 12 finishers faced the prospect of such a test – and doping control chaperone Keith D’Wan approached him to tell him at 2020 hours that he would have to take a test.

According to D’Wan, he viewed Six’s “demeanour as being frustrated, angry and upset,” with the cyclist telling him he had to get home to his family.

However, the official was not aware at this point of the pressure that was being put on the cyclist by his wife via a string of phone calls and text messages creating what his lawyers, who were working for Six on a pro bono basis, described as a ‘drip drip’ effect.

The first of those calls came at 1715 hours to tell the rider that his son was ill, and she also attempted to contact him a number of times during the race itself and afterwards, including while D’Wan was trying to persuade the cyclist, who had by now walked to the underground car park, to take the test.

Six signed a form acknowledging that a “refusal or failure to comply with this request to provide a urine sample may constitute an Anti-Doping Rule violation,” adding in the field headed ‘Athlete Comments,’ “...wife with kids who are extremely ill and I need to be there.”

The decision noted that  "it says something about his motivation that he did (albeit unrealistically) suggest that testers might carry out the test at home that day or the following day."

Crucially, however, Six failed to establish to the panel’s satisfaction that the circumstances, including the fact his son was ill and his wife locked out, constituted a “compelling justification” for him to refuse to provide a sample.

“Honourable though the Athlete’s motives may have been, we have no hesitation in finding that his refusal was not based on any compelling justification,” it said in its decision.

“To be blunt, even if he agreed to race only at the last minute and under pressure, the fact of the matter is that, if he had time to compete in a cycle race, he had to make time to take the test.  If, as was the later the case, he wished to put his family first, then the time to do that was before he agreed to race rather than when he came to be tested.”

It added: “As we say, the Athlete’s situation here was avoidable. He chose to race and, having chosen to race, he should have been prepared to take the test. 

“To that extent, the problem was of his own making and whilst his decision to put his family before his obligations as an athlete may be commendable and humane, his motives do not, in our view, constitute a defence on the basis of Article 2.3.”

The panel did however accept that “his clear motivation was to go urgently to the aid of his family whom he believed to be in significant distress with the potential for harm to the health of his wife and possibly also his children,” and while rejecting that it constituted “compelling justification,” said it did mean “he has behaved without significant fault.”

As a result, the potential two-year ban that Six could have faced was reduced to 18 months.

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.

31 comments

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thereandbackagain [172 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't understand why they couldn't just have tested him immediately and let him go on his way?

This seems somewhat harsh and poorly managed.

I think there may be a typo in here too. Based on the report, I presume it's in fact Mrs Six, not Mr. who 'suffered from “ongoing mood and anxiety-related symptoms,” which were “consistently worse at times when she is alone”'

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step-hent [723 posts] 3 years ago
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thereandbackagain wrote:

I don't understand why they couldn't just have tested him immediately and let him go on his way?

This seems somewhat harsh and poorly managed.

I wasn't sure from reading that how long they had asked him to wait - the test was at 8:20pm, but what time was he selected?

I can see it from both sides, to be honest - the guy panicked because of the family emergency and decided to skip it, but if that is a valid excuse then you can guarantee other athletes would try and use it in more dubious circumstances. A situation where the rules don't have a satisfactory answer, really. It's a great shame for Six though.

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 3 years ago
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@ thereandbackagain - yes, Mrs Six, fixed

@step-hent - changed word order to clarify, he was told at 2020 he had to undergo test. Nothing in decision I can seee re how long it would take.

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lushmiester [189 posts] 3 years ago
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The message from UKAD and his team is clear cycling above family regardless of circumstance and you fit with us at our convenience. A philosophy and just as sickening as the behaviour of the dopers. And says a lot about the attitudes within cycling administration

Why some arrangement 'pee and go' could not have been made in this situation is unclear, although perhaps the was just no stream on the horizon. In such circumstances perhaps doping control chaperone Keith D’Wan could have followed Mr Six around like the grim reaper with a sample bottle. Mr Six's major fault would appear to have been not to have explained his situation early enough so some sanction maybe merited but 18 month instead of 24 month still seems draconian

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SweatnGears [55 posts] 3 years ago
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@Steph-hent - as someone who has worked on The Tour Series, the doping control chaperone approaches the riders as they cross the finish line. In this case it would have been about 8:10pm/8:15pm. The riders normally get time to do podium presentations if needed) and then go immediately to the doping control room. If they don't have podium to do, then they go straight to the control. There is a set amount of time after the race is finished that the rider needs to get to doping control - which leaves the rider with no time to do anything else really other than get to control.

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mattb789 [21 posts] 3 years ago
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In response to the people saying why couldn't he have pee'd and gone, straight away after. Weren't the tour series races ran at 7pm - 8pm therefore, it was only 20 minutes after the finish. it's not like they'd asked him to stick around for 3 hours... (correct me if I'm wrong)

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SweatnGears [55 posts] 3 years ago
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lushmiester wrote:

The message from UKAD and his team is clear cycling above family regardless of circumstance and you fit with us at our convenience. A philosophy and just as sickening as the behaviour of the dopers. And says a lot about the attitudes within cycling administration

Why some arrangement 'pee and go' could not have been made in this situation is unclear, although perhaps the was just no stream on the horizon. In such circumstances perhaps doping control chaperone Keith D’Wan could have followed Mr Six around like the grim reaper with a sample bottle. Mr Six's major fault would appear to have been not to have explained his situation early enough so some sanction maybe merited but 18 month instead of 24 month still seems draconian

Doping control is a 'pee and go' situation. It just needs to be done in a clean environment where the rider selects his two bottles, breaks their seals and does what he needs to in front of the anti-doping doctors.

If you read the rules, once the riders signs the form acknowledging he needs to go to doping control, the onus is up to him to get there in a timely manner.

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 3 years ago
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Lushmeister: ' just as sickening as the behaviour of the dopers'.

You can hardly accuse UKAD of that can you? The poor guy probably made the wrong decision in going to the race but given the obvious pressure at home, you can probably understand why if it was some kind of 'release' from those issues.

Granted, the ban seems heavy (especially if you compare to Rio Ferdinand's 8 month ban for failing to appear for a test).

Perhaps you should thank the dopers who systematically cheat for the need for the whole doping control regime? I sincerely hope we see Marcel again in on the Crit scene. He's a good rider.

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roly [41 posts] 3 years ago
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if they had taken this sort of hard line with some of the actual evidence (not just testimonies) against armstrong and many others then we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. 6 month bans mean nothing in cycling especially at the end of the summer

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James Warrener [1083 posts] 3 years ago
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He is a great rider and was an emerging talent in the Tour Series competition.

Could better communication between officials, rider and team have helped this situation have a happier conclusion.

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notfastenough [3706 posts] 3 years ago
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I feel for him. 18 months is really a single season given where we are in the year, I wonder whether a year without racing will improve his family situation or just make it worse when he wants to start racing again.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 3 years ago
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This story makes more sense to me if he was doping, then unexpectedly had to race, aware that he had drugs in his system, than his neurotic wife excuse. I'd say he was lucky to get six months taken off his two year ban.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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If he was not fit for whatever reason he should have excused himself from the race. To subsequently then enter and say I had no time for a pee test is more then suspect. I accept that everyone has family that they are a priority but his timing seems a little off. Given our voice for change, I see no reason to bend the rules. They have been proven to be good liars on and off the field. We are now just coming to terms with that and I suspect they are playing on our good nature.  39

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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His wife may have been neurotic for reasons related to his job...we can only but speculate. He gets paid big bucks for a reason and has to adhere to protocols. It is not like he did not agree to this when he signed up. I might have argued that they should have pushed for a test a home after her disquiet. It takes several hours prepping for an event, it only takes 20 mins to do a sample after it. There was obviously not enough medical evidence to suggest leniancy in this case  44

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

This story makes more sense to me if he was doping, then unexpectedly had to race, aware that he had drugs in his system, than his neurotic wife excuse. I'd say he was lucky to get six months taken off his two year ban.

I agree with you cat this seems much more plausible.  39

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notfastenough [3706 posts] 3 years ago
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Seoige wrote:

He gets paid big bucks for a reason

the article wrote:

Six, who races as an amateur,

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antonio [1126 posts] 3 years ago
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'Women and children first'.

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SweatnGears [55 posts] 3 years ago
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Seoige wrote:

He gets paid big bucks for a reason and has to adhere to protocols.

In response to this, I would like to say that unfortunately the riders on the UK pro race circuit do not get paid big bucks. If you take a look at the riders out there, a lot of them hold down another job just to help pay the bills. It's a tough life for the guys wanting to follow their dreams.

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gazzaputt [220 posts] 3 years ago
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If the reason given by the rider is true then UKAD have been harsh.

It seems his reasoning was backed by professional medical person and also there'd be records of the mobile phone calls.

IMO UKAD should take a look and maybe a 6 -12 month ban would suffice.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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SweatnGears wrote:
Seoige wrote:

He gets paid big bucks for a reason and has to adhere to protocols.

In response to this, I would like to say that unfortunately the riders on the UK pro race circuit do not get paid big bucks. If you take a look at the riders out there, a lot of them hold down another job just to help pay the bills. It's a tough life for the guys wanting to follow their dreams.

It was the same when I trained with saracens rugby club we were all poor and held down normal jobs. bUT VERY WELL TREATED. ONLY DRUGS I EVER SAW IN THE CHANGING ROOM WAS DEEP HEAT RUB.  4 Does that condone the cycling community intaking life debilitating drugs because they are more commercially orientated, where do we draw the line?

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 3 years ago
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Seoige wrote:

He gets paid big bucks for a reason and has to adhere to protocols.

As it says in the decision (and in the third paragraph of the article), he's classified as an amateur. No big bucks there.

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Jason Smythe [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I can scarcely believe how naive you all seem to be.

UKAD is a professional body, with the sole aim of catching drug cheats. Here they caught a rider who has cheated, and cheated many clean UK based riders.

Marcel Six is not a good up and coming rider. He is an ex-professional rider from the doping heartland of Spain and, if you do some research, you'll find he used to ride for Kelme, far from the cleanest team in the history of the sport.

The word is in the UK peloton that he's been banged to rights. Rumours have been surrounding him for a while and now he's been caught. So he concocted a nice little tale of woe to get him off the hook, it's not like guilty riders haven't been doing this since the dawn of time is it? Guilty riders are first class liars.

So please accept that Marcel Six is guilty as charged. He was sentenced for 18 months by a well respected and very experience group of people at UKAD and he deserves every one of those days. Accept that people cheat and stop burying your heads in the sand.

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Chuffy [201 posts] 3 years ago
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Harsh - but fair. See also the recent Bassons case. Given the current climate I can't believe that people are surprised that the anti-doping authorities are being strict. I'm equally surprised that people seem to think that selectively bending the rules is ok.

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onlyonediane [157 posts] 3 years ago
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Gone for a Burton six, not surprising considering the current climate!

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Eg3ftp1 [67 posts] 3 years ago
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Yep, I have to say, I don't believe him. It seems far more likely he dosed himself up not expecting to race, then when the call came thought "well, as long as I don't finish on the podium I'm unlikely to get tested", then when his number came up decided to leg it and used the domestic situation as an excuse. Surely, knowing full well a deliberately missed test counts as a positive, so leaving would almost certainly result in a two year ban, he would have found the extra time on top of the time to travel to and from the race, and race, to pee in a cup.

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Tony Farrelly [2869 posts] 3 years ago
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Jason Smythe wrote:

I can scarcely believe how naive you all seem to be.

UKAD is a professional body, with the sole aim of catching drug cheats. Here they caught a rider who has cheated, and cheated many clean UK based riders.

Marcel Six is not a good up and coming rider. He is an ex-professional rider from the doping heartland of Spain and, if you do some research, you'll find he used to ride for Kelme, far from the cleanest team in the history of the sport.

The word is in the UK peloton that he's been banged to rights. Rumours have been surrounding him for a while and now he's been caught. So he concocted a nice little tale of woe to get him off the hook, it's not like guilty riders haven't been doing this since the dawn of time is it? Guilty riders are first class liars.

So please accept that Marcel Six is guilty as charged. He was sentenced for 18 months by a well respected and very experience group of people at UKAD and he deserves every one of those days. Accept that people cheat and stop burying your heads in the sand.

Umm… he's Belgian and he went to university in Spain. I don't know whether he doped or not but it looking at the facts of that we've got and his record - it doesn't seem very likely. If I was him and I'd been doping I'd have long ago asked for my money back.

Kelme may not have had the greatest reputation but I doubt its budget ran to juicing it's semi-pros. A quick Google reveals that he raced in Spain for a couple of season and hardly set the world on fire - not as a pro, but as a semi pro. .

If he was a hard bitten doper, you'd think he would (a) simply have refused the gig - he was after all a last minute call up; or (b) made sure he finished outside the first 12 and thus there would have been no question of a test.

How likely is it though that a crit rider from St Albans was at home micro dosing EPO when the call came or had just taken a blood bag out of the fridge? Apart from anything else what race would he have been doping for? AND if he was taking EPO why would he even worry - as we've all learned in the last couple of weeks a test will only catch you if its administered two hours after you've doped.

I suppose he could have been using something else - but all drugs cost and he doesn't seem like a bloke who had a lot of money to splash around. Mrs Six was the one in charge of the purse strings.

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Hammy [97 posts] 3 years ago
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Seoige wrote:
SweatnGears wrote:
Seoige wrote:

He gets paid big bucks for a reason and has to adhere to protocols.

In response to this, I would like to say that unfortunately the riders on the UK pro race circuit do not get paid big bucks. If you take a look at the riders out there, a lot of them hold down another job just to help pay the bills. It's a tough life for the guys wanting to follow their dreams.

It was the same when I trained with saracens rugby club we were all poor and held down normal jobs. bUT VERY WELL TREATED. ONLY DRUGS I EVER SAW IN THE CHANGING ROOM WAS DEEP HEAT RUB.  4 Does that condone the cycling community intaking life debilitating drugs because they are more commercially orientated, where do we draw the line?

You didn't spot all the steroids then?

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Jason Smythe [4 posts] 3 years ago
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tony_farrelly][quote=Jason Smythe wrote:

How likely is it though that a crit rider from St Albans was at home micro dosing EPO when the call came or had just taken a blood bag out of the fridge? Apart from anything else what race would he have been doping for? AND if he was taking EPO why would he even worry - as we've all learned in the last couple of weeks a test will only catch you if its administered two hours after you've doped.

I suppose he could have been using something else - but all drugs cost and he doesn't seem like a bloke who had a lot of money to splash around. Mrs Six was the one in charge of the purse strings.

Somehow I don't think it's epo micro dosing. Most likely something more primitive than that, something that might well be gone the following morning. Old school.

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Tony Farrelly [2869 posts] 3 years ago
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Intravenously injected EPO is supposedly undetectable after two hours according the experts.

Old school or not though the questions in my previous comment still stand - if he'd taken something he knew was likely to show up, why accept the ride and/or why not simply finish outside the top 12 - he'd ridden the Tour Series often enough to know what the rules were.

Equally of course he must also have known it was simply a case of pee and go. Personally I still think 18 months is harsh - and rumours in the peloton aren't the same thing as actual proof.

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Jason Smythe [4 posts] 3 years ago
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tony_farrelly wrote:

Old school or not though the questions in my previous comment still stand - if he'd taken something he knew was likely to show up, why accept the ride and/or why not simply finish outside the top 12 - he'd ridden the Tour Series often enough to know what the rules were.

Equally of course he must also have known it was simply a case of pee and go. Personally I still think 18 months is harsh - and rumours in the peloton aren't the same thing as actual proof.

I don't know your knowledge of the UK peloton but the Tour Series is notorious for having no testing, not for winners, runners up or randoms. He wouldn't have expected a test there in a million years. Rush to the race, charge up, race and go home, no worries.......

......except that night.

Guilty as charged.

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