When Michael Weiss (Team SRM Profiles) won the Breckenridge 100, round five in the Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series in Breckenridge, Colorado, this past weekend, it caused a bit of an uproar. Weiss is currently banned from competition for doping.
Weiss beat local favorite and past multi-time winner Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz) and Ben Swanepoel (Squirt Lube) in the 100-mile mountain bike race. Weiss, who is the 2011 Xterra off-road triathlon champion, was banned for two years for a 2005 doping offence from when he was previously racing as a pro mountain biker. The ban was handed down in late November 2011 and runs until November 2013.
The Austrian rider, who is now living in Colorado Springs was suspended by his National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for two years after being named by Bernhard Kohl, a former professional road cyclist, who said Weiss visited the Vienna blood plasma lab in 2005. He admitted to visiting the same lab and received a two-year ban from cycling.
The case against Weiss was thrown out in 2010, but was recently overruled, which means Weiss is now forbidden from competing in triathlons as well as other sanctioned events until late in 2013. However, NUE Series races are sanctioned by neither USA Cycling nor the UCI.
Prior to the race, he was up front about his suspension with the Breckenridge 100 race director, who approved his entry into the race, but he did not notify the NUE Series of his intended participation. The NUE Series was forced to address the issue after Weiss won and several mountain bike pros like Evan Plews and Todd Wells publicly questioned Weiss's participation.
After the race, the NUE Series reported, "Weiss, who is currently under suspension from NADA for two years, readily agreed to forfeit his NUE Series points to Josh Tostado, who placed second. NUE policy forbids racers from competing in the NUE Series for points while under suspension... Weiss will become eligible to compete in the NUE Series after his suspension expires."
Weiss had released the following statement on his website at the time of latest ruling. "I was disheartened to learn that despite NADA Austria closing my case in September 2010, followed by the Vienna State attorney also ruling in my favor, the Independent Arbitration Commission of NADA still chose to issue a two year suspension effective immediately. The decision contradicts NADA's Legal Commission and the judgment of Vienna's state prosecutor and is founded solely on one individual's verbal accusation with no factual evidence which dates back to 2005.
"I maintain my innocence and have been given the opportunity to appeal the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). After consideration of the time and expense to pursue an appeal, I have chosen to dedicate my time and resources to my family and training and will focus on my future comeback to triathlon, a sport I have grown to love and respect."
Of the Breckenridge 100, Weiss said, "It was a very tough day. It's a brutal course, with lots of long steep climbs, rocky trails combined with extreme altitude. Wheeler Pass, which is on 12,500ft elevation, is the limit and there are hardly any other sports or events which go up that high.
"It was my first 100-mile mountain bike race, although my roots and background as an athlete is in mountain biking. Since I raced triathlon the last four years, I said before the race, 'It's going to be like an Ironman on the mountain bike'."
Weiss won the race on Sunday despite three flat tires. He rode his rim after the final flat for the last four miles of the race.
The problem of doping riders competing has happened once before in the NUE Series when Floyd Landis raced the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in 2007. At the time, proceedings regarding Landis' case were still underway and a final verdict had not been reached.