Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

15-time US cyclo-cross champion Katie Compton handed 4-year doping ban

42-year-old has been one of the leading women in the discipline for almost two decades

Katie Compton, 15 times a US national cyclo-cross champion and runner-up in the discipline at the world championships on four occasions, has been handed a four-year ban for doping. The rider, who insists she always rode clean, has described the news as "soul crushing" but says she cannot afford to fight to clear her name.

The 42-year-old, who won the national title in cyclo-cross for 15 years in succession from 2004 to 2018, has enjoyed huge success on the cyclo-cross circuit, with 25 victories in World Cup races and has been one of the leading female riders in the discipline for almost two decades.

Today, the United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA) announced that the 42-year-old had “tested positive for an anabolic agent as the result of an out-of-competition drug test on September 16, 2020.

“Her urine sample was analysed using a specialised test, known as Carbon Isotope Ratio testing, that differentiates between anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) naturally produced by the body and prohibited anabolic agents of external origin.

“Anabolic agents have powerful performance-enhancing capabilities and can give an athlete an unfair advantage over fellow competitors,” the USADA statement continued.

“All AAS are Non-Specified Substances in the class of Anabolic Agents and are prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy, and the Union Cycliste Internationale Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List,” USADA said.

“Compton’s four-year period of ineligibility began on September 16, 2020, the date her positive sample was collected. In addition, Compton has been disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to September 16, 2020, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes,” it added.

Besides her successes in cyclo-cross, Compton is also a two-time Paralympic champion, acting as tandem pilot to Karissa Whitsell at Athens in 2004.

In a statement, she said: 

This news comes with great heartache and sadness, and it is the worst possible way to end my cycling career. I need to preface this news with the fact that I have always been a clean athlete, and I am proud of how much I have accomplished racing clean and being very careful with whatever I put into my body, especially after dealing with so many health issues throughout my life.

I provided a sample for USADA in September 2020 that came back negative for any banned substances, it was not even atypical. That news was communicated to me in the same way it has always been via a letter from USADA. I’ve received that same letter after every test I’ve submitted for the last 19 years. In early February of 2021, after returning from a difficult race season, I learned that the same sample from September was re-analysed due to a bio-passport irregularity and found to be positive for an exogenous anabolic steroid. This was devastating news to me as I have never intentionally or knowingly put anything like that into my body. I know how delicate women's hormones are, and I would never choose to take anything to jeopardise my health and, as a result, suffer irreparable damage to my endocrine system. And not only that, I never took anything for ethical and moral reasons; I’ve been a strong proponent of clean sport my entire career and feel doing anything to enhance one’s own natural ability is cheating, full stop.

Despite deciding to retire in March, I also felt the need to try and defend myself and my reputation. I hired a lawyer and did my best to investigate how the substance got into my system but was unsuccessful in finding that answer. Over the past six months, I learned that I cannot prove that I didn’t intentionally take anything, and I can’t afford to keep fighting knowing the outcome will be the same regardless. Unfortunately, seeing that it was five months between the sample collection and the notification, trying to figure what allegedly got into my body proved to be impossible, and I have decided to stop fighting an expensive and difficult battle and accept the sanction.

So, it is with great stress and sorrow that I've ended my competitive career. My friends and family know how much I'm against doping and know it is a topic in which I have always been outspoken. This news is gut-wrenching to me and the worst period I've ever experienced during my life so far. I've processed all the emotions over the past year and realized that I don't need bike racing in my life anymore. I still love riding my bike and enjoying that with friends, but I have no desire to ever race or be competitive again, which is probably good since the sanction includes a four-year ban from competition.

I wanted to share this news prior to USADA releasing it to the public so you hear it from me first. I'm obviously stepping away from the competitive cycling world for the next few years and don't know what my future within the sport may look like post sanction, but I want people to know that I'll miss the racing community, specifically all the amazing people I've met along the way who simply share the love of riding bikes. I'll always cherish the experiences and wonderful adventures cycling has given me while also acknowledging that it has brought me plenty of heartache and disappointment, and I'm emotionally and mentally exhausted. Ending my career this way is simply soul-crushing. It physically hurts and makes me incredibly sad.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment

29 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 2 years ago
1 like

There's a price to pay for long term doping. Griffiths-Joyner didn't live very long.

Avatar
brooksby replied to wtjs | 2 years ago
0 likes
wtjs wrote:

There's a price to pay for long term doping. Griffiths-Joyner didn't live very long.

Its only wikipedia-ing her because of this that I discovered she died.  I never knew.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to wtjs | 2 years ago
2 likes
wtjs wrote:

There's a price to pay for long term doping. Griffiths-Joyner didn't live very long.

She died of a congential brain condition (ie had it from birth) and never failed a drugs test.  Were she still alive that would be libelous.

Avatar
Gus T replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
0 likes

Says who, her body was spirited away in the dead of night and cremated to prevent an autopsy. 

Avatar
andystow replied to Gus T | 2 years ago
1 like
Gus T wrote:

Says who, her body was spirited away in the dead of night and cremated to prevent an autopsy. 

Citation needed.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/199306.stm

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to andystow | 2 years ago
0 likes
andystow wrote:
Gus T wrote:

Says who, her body was spirited away in the dead of night and cremated to prevent an autopsy. 

Citation needed.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/199306.stm

https://web.archive.org/web/20170114232820/http://articles.latimes.com/1...

Indeed - 2 reputable sources vs some randomer from the internet.  Whom to believe 

Avatar
Dingaling replied to Gus T | 2 years ago
0 likes

That is exactly what I heard in the news at the time it happened.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
1 like

Lance never failed a drugs test either. To anyone who follows athetics it is so clear that FGJ took PEDS, no coincidence that she quit as soon as mandatory out-of-season drug testing came in when she was at her peak. Her world records for the 100m and 200m have not been surpassed for over thirty years - doesn't that whiff a bit?

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

Lance never failed a drugs test either. To anyone who follows athetics it is so clear that FGJ took PEDS, no coincidence that she quit as soon as mandatory out-of-season drug testing came in when she was at her peak. Her world records for the 100m and 200m have not been surpassed for over thirty years - doesn't that whiff a bit?

Maybe but I'm not sure the 2 situations are entirely comparable.  Lance was in a team sport and in retrospect surrounded by known dopers, he DID test positive several times that were either not followed up or explained away (steroid saddle sore cream!)  and eventually admitted it himself.   

The world records are in no way a smoking gun.  There are 2 great articles below on some of the long standing records - Jonathan Edwards triple jump for instance, but some classic Eastern european dodgy ones as well.  The Grantland one in particular is a good read.

https://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-drugs-dont-work/

https://www.pledgesports.org/2017/08/longest-standing-world-records-athl...

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
1 like
Secret_squirrel wrote:

The world records are in no way a smoking gun. 

I think they are in this case. FGJ Had a 100m PB of 10.97 in 1987, then she ran the stil-WR-time of 10.49 in 1988. Half a second in less than a year? Similarly her 200m PB set in 1987 was 21.96, which in 1988 she lowered by 0.62 seconds to 21.34. Then, as noted above, she quit at the height of her fame and achievements just before mandatory out-of-competition drug testing was introduced.

From 1988 onwards the men's 100M record has been broken 13 times...

It's not proof positive, sure, but...

Avatar
Jetmans Dad replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
Secret_squirrel wrote:

The world records are in no way a smoking gun. 

I think they are in this case. FGJ Had a 100m PB of 10.97 in 1987, then she ran the stil-WR-time of 10.49 in 1988. Half a second in less than a year? Similarly her 200m PB set in 1987 was 21.96, which in 1988 she lowered by 0.62 seconds to 21.34. Then, as noted above, she quit at the height of her fame and achievements just before mandatory out-of-competition drug testing was introduced.

From 1988 onwards the men's 100M record has been broken 13 times...

It's not proof positive, sure, but...

I don't know about the 200m, but wasn't her 100m record shown to have been set with the advantage of a highly illegal tailwind but, because the on track equipment was faulty and registered zero wind, the record was allowed to stand?

That obviously doesn't mean she wasn't doping, but illegal substances are not the only reason for controversial, long standing world records.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Jetmans Dad | 2 years ago
0 likes

Yes that's true but then the WR would still be 10.61 (the next day with legal winds), set by her at the same US trials in the final (over heats, semis and finals she set the then three fastest times of all time - a woman whose PB, set the previous year, wasn't in the all-time top 40!) and still 0.35 better than her previous best. 10.61 wasn't achieved by any other woman for 33 years when it was equalled in this year's Olympic final.

Avatar
wtjs replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
0 likes

Were she still alive that would be libelous

The answer to that is that she isn't still alive. Both of the females under discussion are guilty, and it seems highly likely that long term abuse of anabolic steroids doesn't do you any good. You also don't believe that psychopath nutter drivers are over-represented in the set of BMW drivers. This one said he was going to 'fucking flatten' me and 'you will be knocked off'. Foolishly, his nutter rage-filled brain allowed him to say it on camera, along with his claim that he 'gave [me] a metre and a half'.

Avatar
Simon E replied to wtjs | 2 years ago
0 likes

A life can be cut short due to any number of causes. Doping is certainly one of them, and a significant number of cyclists died of no obvious cause during the EPO era.

Tom Simpson died in 1967 but many of his contemporaries are still alive. Does that mean that he was the only one that doped?

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will | 2 years ago
3 likes

I'd love to believe her, but looking at the balance of probabilities, she is more likely to have been caught red handed. Why?

 - The test in question is expensive and not included as part of dope tests as standard practice (due to cost). Therefore its use is typically targeted, working on intelligence or specific suspicions. It's unlikely to have been an unfortunate coincidence that she got popped like this.

 - Appreciating that she is approaching retirement, I would suggest this would actually be exactly the time to have a little dabble on the dark side (giving the benefit of the doubt that she is not a life long doper). I often hear the line, why now, why tarnish everything at this stage in his/her career? 

Well, that's not getting in to the mindset of an elite athlete, especially one who is experiencing the inevitable decline that comes with age. Even more so, if that person had been clean all their life... have a dabble, go out with a bang, see what you could have achieved if you'd been on a 'level' playing field. Honestly, reputation means shit to an elite athlete once retired and these athletes are all to aware of that fact. 

 - She's American and 44 years old. Nothing wrong with either of those points per se, however she is of the vintage where coming to Europe from the US, came with a rapid awakening. To that generation, it was quickly a scenario of 'get on the programme, or back on the plane'... 

I feel for her, I honestly do, but no, I don't buy in to her story at all. 

 

 

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
3 likes

"...being very careful with whatever I put into my body, especially after dealing with so many health issues throughout my life."

Now where have I head that before...

Avatar
brooksby replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
4 likes

"Live strong, dude!"

Avatar
peted76 | 2 years ago
0 likes

This is horrible news. 15x US CX Champ.. legacy ruined.

 

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
0 likes

I was under the impression in cases like these that there was a B sample that could be independently tested, I wonder if that exists in this case?

Avatar
Rick_Rude replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
3 likes

It will do. The only reason she isn't pursuing this she's dirty. Best to pretend you can't afford to take it further. Surprised she didn't use the 'tainted' food or supplements excuse yet. 

Getting sick of hearing drug cheats complain they didn't do it. I follow Motogp and Andrea Iannone got busted and said it was tained meat. Not a good excuse when the steroid in question was very designer and not used in the meat industry. 

Avatar
mingmong replied to Rick_Rude | 2 years ago
0 likes

This this this

 

Avatar
muhasib replied to Rick_Rude | 2 years ago
0 likes

Probably can't use the supplement defence as she said in Jan 2020 on her twitter: "I won’t because I don’t take supplements that would be “tainted”. That was in a discussion about the Betsema case.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to muhasib | 2 years ago
10 likes

Maybe it was her shoes - could they have been laced?
I'll get my coat.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to muhasib | 2 years ago
0 likes
muhasib wrote:

Probably can't use the supplement defence as she said in Jan 2020 on her twitter: "I won’t because I don’t take supplements that would be “tainted”. That was in a discussion about the Betsema case.

to my mind suppliments were never a defence. If they are taking suppliments they are doing so because they believe it will improve their performance, so we're into a grey area of "these substances will improve performance and are legal", while "those substances will improve performance and are not legal."

So it's always possible shady characters are adding potentially banned substances to their suppliments, some new compound which has a benefit but it yet to be declared illegal. Or even trying to get away with small quantities of known substances.

Avatar
peted76 replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

to my mind suppliments were never a defence. If they are taking suppliments they are doing so because they believe it will improve their performance, so we're into a grey area of "these substances will improve performance and are legal", while "those substances will improve performance and are not legal."

It's literally in black and white! There is no grey area.

On the banned list = cheating. 

Not listed on the banned list = not cheating. 

There's not one top level athlete who wouldn't take performance gains where it was safe and legal to do so. Every top level sport literally pushes every limit and boundary.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to peted76 | 2 years ago
0 likes
peted76 wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

to my mind suppliments were never a defence. If they are taking suppliments they are doing so because they believe it will improve their performance, so we're into a grey area of "these substances will improve performance and are legal", while "those substances will improve performance and are not legal."

It's literally in black and white! There is no grey area.

On the banned list = cheating. 

Not listed on the banned list = not cheating. 

There's not one top level athlete who wouldn't take performance gains where it was safe and legal to do so. Every top level sport literally pushes every limit and boundary.

And all the substances on the banned list were not on the banned list when people started taking them, until the authorities caught up with the dopers, so every suppliment is a potential banned substance waiting to be declared, and athletes are responsible for being incredibly careful with what is in them. If they are taking a substance they believe will improve their performance, they better be damn sure it doesn't contain anything which will improve their performance illegally. Turning round later and saying "Contaminated suppliment doesn't cut it"

They took it to improve their performance, they didn't know exactly what was in it, and something in there turned out to be banned. No defence

Avatar
Simon E replied to Rick_Rude | 2 years ago
3 likes
Rick_Rude wrote:

The only reason she isn't pursuing this she's dirty.

You don't know that. You're just assuming.

I'm not defending Compton, or anyone else who tests positive for an anabolic agent, but life really isn't as simple as we might want it to be.

If she is innocent then it's deeply tragic for her.

I think cheating will always happen. Personally right now a CX rider using steroids is nothing compared to Covid, Climate Change and the shocking scandals and corruption in politics in every country and in businesses of every size. That's not to say it isn't wrong but right now it hardly even registers on my fairness-o-meter.

Pro sport is only a sales vehicle, the cyclists are mobile advertising boards. They are very good at pedalling a bike just as footballers are good at kicking a ball around. So what? I think we invest far too much emotion into celebrities, teams and 'personalities', elevating fellow humans to being something special. We place them on pedestals, from which they can all too easily fall. Then when they do fall we absolutely tear them to shreds for it.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
2 likes

Am I being unkind by wondering how many 40 yr old National cycling champions there are in the current doping-controlled era?

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
0 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

I was under the impression in cases like these that there was a B sample that could be independently tested, I wonder if that exists in this case?

I don't think I have ever heard of a case where the b sample cleared the athlete after apositive a sample. I always thought it wa strange that the two samples were effectively halves of the same original sample, and not two seperate samples taken at source.

i.e the athlete should provide samples into two containers, in case of contaminaiton of the first container, rather than the athlete providing one container of sample and that being subesquently shred between two other containers for a and b sample.

Latest Comments