South African cyclist David George, a team mate of Lance Armstrong at the US Postal Service team in 1999 and 2000, has tested positive for EPO after being targeted for out-of-competition testing as a result of apparent irregularities in his biological passport profile.
The test was carried out on 29 August, coincidentally less than a week after the United States Anti Doping Agency announced that it had banned Armstrong for life and stripped him of results including his seven Tour de France titles after the Texan chose not to contest its charges through an arbitration hearing.
In a statement published today, Khalid Galant, CEO of national anti-doping agency the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS), commented: “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.
“His biological passport, which analyses the athletes blood profile indicated suspicious activity and that triggered a targeted test for EPO. EPO testing gives us a window of between 6 and 12 hours for testing because that’s how long it will show up in a test.
Galant added: “This EPO positive is testament to the work we have done with the athlete biological passport, an essential tool in the fight against doping.
“We have warned the sports community a year ago that we would be vigorous in our testing of both blood and urine of SA’s top athletes. We will continue to aggressively target EPO dopers.”
William Newman, the President of national governing body Cycling South Africa, confirmed that George has been provisionally suspended from competition with immediate effect.
“Cycling South Africa respects the independence of the SAIDS process and will respect the outcome,” he explained. “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.”
George, aged 36 and from Cape Town, is a former national champion on the road and in the time trial who also has also won Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medals, respectively, in those disciplines. His former teams include Barloworld, which he rode for between 2003 and 2005.
He is currently listed as a rider for Team 360 Life which profiles three riders on its website – the others, besides George, being James Reid and Kevin Evans.
The team is sponsored by Nedbank, which has announced today that it has suspended the outfit with immediate effect, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian, which quoted Tabby Tsengiwe of the bank’s group communications department as saying: “Nedbank has a zero tolerance towards the use of any banned substances or performance enhancing drugs and does not condone or support such use in any sport."
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.