The US Anti-Doping Agency today announced that former US Continental level rider Barry Miller accepted a one-year ban after a sample he provided at the 2017 Tour of Somerville tested positive for a prohibited substance.
The length of Miller's ban for the prohibited anabolic agent was reduced after the 29-year-old provided investigators with evidence from a third-party lab that a supplement product, which did not list any prohibited substance on its Supplement Facts label, was the source of his positive tests. The World Anti-Doping Agency Code allows for a substantial reduction in the ban, which for Miller began on May 29, 2017, the date his positive samples were collected. Miller has been disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to that day, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.
Miller was initially listed as having placed fourth in the Tour of Somerville results on USA Cycling's website, but those results were quickly scrubbed Friday afternoon. Likewise, Somerville was previously the last result listed for Miller in his USA Cycling results, but that result was also scrubbed from the website Friday afternoon.
Miller sent a statement to media on Friday that was addressed to "friends, family, teammates, sponsors, supporters," saying he was relieved to be able to "break his silence" on the situation after nine months of keeping silent.
"On July 21, 2017, after the third stage of the Cascade Classic, I got out of the shower at my host house and quickly checked my email as I got dressed," Miller wrote in the statement he sent out Friday. "There I received the shock of my life when I read an email informing me that a routine drug test I underwent two months before, at the end of May, had returned positive for some sort of steroid."
Miller was in a "state of shock," he wrote, and had no idea where the substance came from.
"My world had completely collapsed. I had no answers, very few resources, and hardly anyone to turn to."
Miller eventually hired lawyer Howard Jacobs, who immediately started testing all of the supplements Miller had been taking prior to the failed anti-doping test.
"A number of weeks later a protein powder drink mix that I had been using at the time was revealed to be tainted with the steroid DHEA," Miller revealed. "This substance was not listed anywhere on the ingredients or on the manufacturer's website. Further independent expert analysis, on both our end and USADA's, proved that this was the culprit."
Miller's urine samples were analyzed using a specialized test that differentiates between anabolic-androgenic steroids naturally produced by the body and prohibited anabolic agents of external origin, according to USADA's statement released today, and the test was carried out as part of USA Cycling's RaceClean Program.
Miller, of Beverly, Massachusetts, has raced mostly on the elite amateur level in the US, but he spent one year on the Lupus Racing Team in 2016, competing in a handful of UCI races in North America. He raced briefly with the Swedish Continental team FireFighters Upsala CK in 2014. After the Lupus team folded before the 2017 season, Miller raced with Support Clean Sport-SeaSucker and the CRCA Foundation, according to USA Cycling results. He was competing at Metra-Xrcel-Cycles 54 at last year's Tour of Somerville.
In his Friday statement, Miller said he takes his responsibilities as an athlete "very seriously" and uses every precaution to protect himself from inadvertent ingestion.
"I've been drug tested since the age of 17 both in the US and abroad," Miller wrote. "I understand the serious nature of the antidoping code, and I have always been extremely careful to check any medication or supplement I take using every resource possible, to a degree bordering on paranoia.
"I have witnessed firsthand the consequences of athletes being careless. I undertook all of these precautions prior to using this
protein powder - there was absolutely nothing more I could have done to protect myself from this happening. All that being said, despite taking every precaution humanly possible, I acknowledge that the substance was in my body and that this has consequences. I accept responsibility for that and know that I must face penalties as a result."
Miller's full statement:
Dear friends, family, teammates, sponsors, supporters,
Since last summer you may have noticed that I've not been in contact much, if at all, and sort of disappeared off the face of the earth. I'm a quiet guy and I'm not great at staying in touch to begin with, so maybe it went unnoticed.
However in this instance there was a reason behind it. I'm very relieved that I can finally, after nearly nine months, break my silence and fully explain what's been going on.On July 21, 2017, after the third stage of the Cascade Classic, I got out of the shower at my host house and quickly checked my email as I got dressed. There I received the shock of my life when I read an email informing me that a routine drug test I underwent two months before, at the end of May, had returned positive for some sort of steroid.
I returned home to the east coast immediately in a state of complete shock and disbelief. I had no idea what could have caused it or where it had come from. I felt like I was in the midst of a bad dream, and for many weeks, months even, I had to re-read the email on a daily basis to understand that it was real. My world had completely collapsed. I had no answers, very few resources, and hardly anyone to turn to.
The current anti-doping system is unlike anything we learn about in school when studying the Constitution. It assumes the athlete guilty until proven innocent, and provides absolutely no services or resources to help the athlete defend him/herself. I count myself beyond lucky that I was put in touch with the sports world's top lawyer, Howard Jacobs, who agreed to take my case and gave me my first glimmer of hope.
We set about testing all of the supplements I had been taking at the time through independent testing, and a number of weeks later a protein powder drink mix that I had been using at the time was revealed to be tainted with the steroid DHEA. This substance was not listed anywhere on the ingredients or on the manufacturer's website. Further independent expert analysis, on both our end and USADA's, proved that this was the culprit.
While DHEA is on the prohibited list, it has apparently been widely proven not to be performance-enhancing. Since learning about this contamination, I have done a lot of research on DHEA. No less an authority than American antidoping pioneer, Don Catlin, has stated on the record that DHEA has "little to no effect." It is one of the substances most frequently found in contaminated supplements across the world, particularly the United States, where the vitamin supplement industry continues to remain almost completely unregulated. Numerous studies have shown 12-25% of all supplements are contaminated with some form of prohibited substance(s) not listed anywhere on the ingredients.
I have always taken my responsibilities as an athlete very seriously. I've been drug tested since the age of 17 both in the US and abroad. I understand the serious nature of the antidoping code, and I have always been extremely careful to check any medication or supplement I take using every resource possible, to a degree bordering on paranoia. I have witnessed firsthand the consequences of athletes being careless. I undertook all of these precautions prior to using this protein powder - there was absolutely nothing more I could have done to protect myself from this happening.
All that being said, despite taking every precaution humanly possible, I acknowledge that the substance was in my body and that this has consequences. I accept responsibility for that and know that I must face penalties as a result.
It is my hope that anyone who knows me will know that this was unintentional, and that I would never do anything to intentionally break the rules. Honesty and integrity are among the pillars of the way I live my life and how I treat others. I don't drink, I don't party, I've never even been pulled over for speeding in the 12 years that I've had my driver's license.
The last few years have not been easy, with team managers stealing money, sponsors that turned out to never have existed, and teams abruptly folding; but for whatever reason I've come out of it loving cycling more than ever. It's my whole world and I would never do anything to put that into jeopardy. I never got into cycling to become rich. I've had a few decent results over the years, but certainly nothing amazing that would raise anyone's eyebrows. I've had a lot of nice experiences along the way, but my career was mediocre at best; I hesitate to even use the word "career." The reality is that I wouldn't have had the money to cheat even if I had wanted to. If I had, I would probably have at least chosen something that actually works.
It has taken far longer to reach a conclusion than I, or anyone else, could have imagined. During that time I have resided in my own private hell; I would not wish it on my worst enemy. The constant stress and worrying and never-ending limbo has eaten me alive. I hardly sleep at night and my hair is falling out. I have become completely isolated socially, as I only told a handful of people. Out of respect for the process and its confidentiality, I dodged friends' questions, avoided social interaction, and simply disappeared. It was far from healthy but for me it was better than having to lie, something that goes against every fiber of my being.
Having now endured this nightmare for nearly a year, it is my belief that the USOC should adopt some sort of policy to offer athletes accused of a violation the services of mental health professionals, someone they can talk to when it all becomes too much. Because it does. Especially when there's no end in sight. I'm lucky that I found a healthy outlet by getting back on the bike; other athletes may not be so fortunate and instead find their way into self-destructive outlets with terrible consequences.USADA should be commended for playing a pivotal role in creating a new culture in cycling in recent years. Unfortunately it has also seen innocent athletes, like me, caught in the crossfire. I am well aware that in this day and age, despite fully proving my complete innocence, I have little hope that any team will ever sign me again.
Nonetheless, I am proud to have fought and cleared my name. I owe Howard Jacobs a huge debt of gratitude. Not only for taking the case of a little guy like me, but above all for giving me hope.
I don't know what the future holds. After this finally becomes public and I am reduced to rubble by the media and everyone else, I am left to live with it and try to pick up the pieces. Despite all that I've gone through, I still love cycling more than ever and I don't want my time in the sport to end this way. I really hope I'll be given a chance to come back.
As regards the protein powder manufacturer, I am already in the process of pursuing legal action against them, and for that reason I will not be naming them in this statement.
To my friends, family, sponsors, and supporters, I am truly sorry that this has happened and that you have to read this, that I hid it from you for so long. I'm sorry for yet another damaging story like this that brings harm to the beautiful sport of cycling. And I am sorry to those of you who may be put into a difficult position because of your association with me. To those who have stood by me during these dark months, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read this. I ask for your understanding, respect, and privacy during this difficult time.Sincerely,
April 13, 2018