SA Cycling Champion Tests Positive for EPO Doping

Cape Town – 6 November, 2012 – SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has announced today that South African cycling champion, David George, has tested positive for the banned drug, EPO (Erythropoietin) and will face a charge of doping at an independent tribunal.

George is one of SA’s top cyclists – a former Olympian, a podium finisher in the Cape Epic, and a former Lance Armstrong teammate on the US Postal Service Cycling team 1999-2000.

George tested positive in an out-of-competition test conducted by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport on 29 August 2012, explains Institute for Drug-Free Sport CEO, Khalid Galant. “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,” he adds.

“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 says that EPO is a hormone that artificially increases the red blood cell count therefore increases the athlete’s oxygen carrying capacity, and, in turn, enhances performance.

“The drug is especially beneficial in endurance sports where athletes are competing over long distances in sports like cycling, running and triathlon,” he adds.

“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, President of Cycling South Africa, says George is provisionally suspended with immediate effect from competing in any event and the SAIDS process will now take its course.

“Cycling South Africa respects the independence of the SAIDS process and will respect the outcome,” says Newman. “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.”