Leading South African mountain biker Rourke Croeser has been charged with an anti-doping rule violation due to a positive test for Erythropoietin (EPO). The athlete’s B-sample also confirmed the presence of EPO.
Synthetic EPO is banned in sport. It drastically improves oxygen delivery to muscles and is used illegally by endurance athletes. Lance Armstrong admitted to using synthetic EPO during his Tour de France successes.
In the lead up to Mountain Bike Cross Country World Championships in Vallnord, Andorra, at the end of August 2015, SAIDS authorised its Spanish counterparts to conduct drug testing on the South African cycling team preparing for the international competition. Of the South African athletes tested in Andorra, only Mr Croeser’s sample was found to contain Recombinant EPO.
The 2015 anti-doping rules only permit the public disclosure of the athlete’s name after the administrative period of confirmation and the opportunity to contest the charge has elapsed, hence the long period between the test result and the public disclosure.
The same anti-doping rules stipulate that a minimum of a four-year sanction for EPO be imposed in the absence of any mitigating circumstances which could influence a reduction in the sanction.
Mr Croeser’s hearing will be conducted in the new year.