British junior cyclist admits to taking EPO

Master rider suspended four years for steroid use

British cycling has been hit by two doping cases in the amateur ranks, one of them concerning a junior rider who has admitted taking EPO.

The other case has reached a final conclusion with UK Anti-doping banning Master category rider Andrew Hastings for four years after he tested positive for the steroids Metenolone, Stanozolol. He was tested at the National Team Time Trial Championships and then won the British Cycling Masters title in the 35-39 age group. According to the UK Anti-Doping final decision document, Hastings claimed he tested positive after sharing a syringe in his local gym. However, this defence was dismissed during his procedure.

The Cycling Time Trials (CTT), the national governing body for time trials in England and Wales, revealed that two anti-doping violations had occurred during the 2015 season but the case concerning British junior national 10-mile time trial champion Gabriel Evans has yet to reach a final conclusion. However, Evans confessed to taking EPO in a message on a time trial forum.

“On 3 August 2015 I bought EPO for the first time,” Evans wrote in his message.

“On 11 August 2015 I travelled to France for a weeks training camp with the family of a then-teammate. With me I brought one vial of EPO. This was found by the teammate's father who presented evidence to UK Anti-Doping. UKAD contacted me shortly after to arrange a deposition, in which I promptly admitted to all wrongdoing. I withdrew from the upcoming Junior Tour of Wales, the premier event on the junior calendar.

"I have competed only one time since buying the drugs; on 5 September 2015 I raced the National Junior 10m TT in which I finished 1st. I did not have this race in mind when I used the drugs; I realise that competing was (another) huge mistake but at the time my intent was not malicious. I was hoping to regain some normality and that the whole mess would somehow be swept under the rug. I have now forfeited this title.”

Evans told Cycling Weekly that he decided to take EPO after losing the 25-mile title event.

“That was a catalyst,” he said. “I got beaten by a lot, and when you get beaten by a lot you start questioning things. You question other people. I’m not trying to justify it, but when there is that much media exposure, about EPO, it is easy to be tempted. A big factor was losing that title.”

An apology

In his forum post, Evans apologised to the people who he has hurt but promised to return to racing when his eventual ban ends.

“First of all I would like to say that I am extremely sorry to those who have supported me thus far, especially to those individuals and clubs who have been an endless resource over my intense, albeit short, journey. I know that this will come as a nasty shock, and I wish that I could apologise in person to all of you,” Evans wrote.

“I would also particularly like to apologise to the competitors and organisers of the 2015 Junior National 10 TT, especially to those three riders who were cheated out of medals. 

“I am doing the best I can to put this right by being as honest and contrite as possible. I plan to continue to train hard for the duration of my ban and return to racing once it expires, whenever that should be.”

He also warned other people against doping.

“Finally: if there is anybody reading this who is considering using PEDs, know that my choice has turned out to be immensely destructive and has seriously affected my personal life for the past four months (and, I’m sure, will continue to do so). When each week yields news of another positive test it can be easy to work yourself into a mentality whereby doping can be normalised and justified. In reality it strips all enjoyment out of riding. It is immensely damaging not only to your sporting career but also your personal life and it is also very, very dangerous. There is nothing that I would not give to be able to turn back the clock to August 2015 and have that choice again.”

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