ASADA appeals decision to clear unnamed elite Australian rider who tested positive for cocaine
Rider who returned positive in-competition test had been cleared of wrongdoing due to late notification
The Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel of the Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority has launched an appeal in the country’s federal court in the case of a cyclist who tested positive for cocaine in October 2010. The rider has not been named, but is said to be an elite cyclist who is a member of Cycling Australia’s testing pool. While an out-of-competition positive test for cocaine is not subject to sporting sanctions, an in-competition one - as in this case - is.
The rider, able to be identified only by the codename XZTT had tested positive to benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine, while competing in China, reports The Border Mail.
He was not notified of the positive test until March 2011 instead of the one week form discovery of the result required under anti-doping rules, but the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel still ruled against him.
The cyclist appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which ruled in his favour, with its decision critical of the UCI, ASADA and the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel.
It is that decision that the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel is now appealing to the Federal Court, and John Marshal, on behalf of the panel, told the court that while it acknowleged there had been a delay in informing the rider of the positive test, that should not matter if there had been an anti-doping rule violation.
The question of late notification was the central issue in the Alex Rasmussen case – proceedings were opened against the Dane in 2011 for three violations under WADA’s ‘whereabouts’ programme, but the Dane’s national federation absolved him, saying the UCI had been too late of notifying him of the third infraction.
However, the UCI appealed the case to the Case of Arbitration for Sport, which handed Rasmussen an 18 month ban. He is now back with Garmin-Sharp, the team he had joined after his initial acquittal.
Perhaps the most notorious example of a cyclist using cocaine is Tom Boonen, who tested positive for it in May 2008.
Unlike the Australian case, that was an out-of-competition test, so no doping violation was committed, but Boonen was excluded from that year;’s Tour de France.
He was convicted on criminal charges in Belgium relating to cocaine use and given a suspended sentence, then, in April 2009, tested positive for it again in an out-of-competition test – as it turned out, the third time that had happened, an earlier positive result in 2007 not having previously been made public.
Initially suspended by Quick-Step, Boonen was able to race in the 2009 Tour de France only after a lengthy legal battle with ASO, who had declared him persona non grata. He would abandon the race through illness two thirds of the way through.
Addiction to the drug also led to Marco Pantani’s death in February 2004, with a coroner’s inquest attributing it to heart failure brought about through acute cocaine poisoning.
Pleast note: We are keeping comments open on this story, although for legal reasons we’d ask users not to name riders when speculating on the identity of the Australian cyclist.