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British amateur banned for doping says rival spiked his drink

National 12-hour time trial champion, Robin Townsend, was banned for four years after testing positive for a banned stimulant

An amateur cyclist banned from cycling for four years after testing positive for a prohibited substance has said his drink was spiked.

National 12-hour time trial champion, Robin Townsend, was handed a four-year ban by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after testing positive for the stimulant modafinil after a race last year.

The in-competition test was taken after Townsend finished ninth at the Burton and District Cycling Alliance 100 Miles event, on 5 September 2015, which he was riding for Team Swift. However, the 46-year-old claims his drink was spiked by a rival. 

British Junior National 10-mile TT champion admits EPO use

Townsend said the “only explanation” he could provide was that the positive test was caused by the “spiking” of his bottle while he left his bike unattended during registration for the event.

The alleged “spiker”, who has not been named, sent Townsend's partner, Denise Bayliss, what UKAD called a “deeply unpleasant and threatening” text message on Sept 30, 2014, reading: “you ignorant bastard. [redacted]. That little c*** is only 2 minutes behind me now. I’m going to tear you and him apart. F***ing lock your doors as I am going to come and rip you to shreds if you ever cross me again it will be the end of everything you know”.

The man also allegedly tried to provoke Townsend to fight him in January 2015, but Townsend declined.

The UKAD did not accept Townsend’s explanation was sufficient to discharge his burden of proof, and said the “spiking theory” was unsupported by evidence.

Graham Arthur, UKAD’s Director of Legal said: “Under the World Anti-Doping Code all athletes, whether amateur or professional, must follow the principal of ‘Strict Liability’. They are solely responsible for any banned substance which is found in their system, whether or not there is an intention to cheat.

“This can be challenging for an athlete - they need to be aware of the danger to their career at all times.”

Bob Howden, president of British Cycling, said: “This case highlights the clear position that UKAD and British Cycling share – that banned substances have no place in sport and riders caught with banned substances in their system will not be allowed to compete.

“British Cycling’s anti-doping culture is strong and we work closely with UKAD to deter all forms of doping and ensure that anyone falling foul of the rules is caught. I am saddened by any such instance, but the anti-doping system is working and we can take heart from that.

Townsend's case is the latest in a series of doping bans for cyclists on the UK Time Trialling scene. In December the British Junior 10-mile Time Trial champion, Gabriel Evans, admitted using EPO. Also in December amateur British Masters champion, Andrew Hastings, of Richardsons-Trek RT, was banned for all sport for four years after testing positive for two types of anabolic steroid.

Townsend is banned from all sport for four years, a ban which will expire in October 2019.

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brooksby | 8 years ago

If he'd been using a banned substance you would have thought he would have finished higher up than ninth; if he had been using it intentionally (rather than his bottle being spiked) then he should be asking for a refund...  3

monkeytrousers | 8 years ago

And he just got his picture in the latest CTT handbook too!

davel | 8 years ago

They're thinking that they need to get the message out that being a cheaty bastard won't be tolerated - whatever your level.

Ghisallo | 8 years ago

Over here in the States, the governing body just announced they are going to start testing Cat. 3s and even 4s, which is sheer lunacy, if you ask me. What a waste of resources (a) that is bound to "catch" amateurs -- who, at these lower levels, race for the sheer fun of it -- who just happened to drink or eat something containing a substance on the ephemeral banned list (b). It's a crock. Weekend-warrior amateurs cannot justly be held to the same standard as professionals. Whatever are they thinking?

Carton | 8 years ago
1 like

Leaving aside whether or not this happened, this is the one issue I can see with the current fairly draconian cycling anti-doping regulations: the potential for spiking. Splash a guy with dear-antler spray (the one potentially contaminated with methyl testosterone, not the placebo) and you could end his career.

For now, there's no sensible approach but the status quo of strict liability. But this is something to watch out for, IMHO.

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