The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) announced on Tuesday that it has handed Stephen Welsh, a cyclist from Barrie, Ontario, a three-year suspension for the possession of banned substances clenbuterol, testosterone and erythropoietin. The infraction occurred while he was visiting Tucson, Arizona.
CCES received multiple reports by phone and email about Welsh’s activities and conducted an investigation. Prior to asserting the violation, Welsh voluntarily met with CCES and admitted to purchasing clenbuterol, testosterone and erythropoietin from a website based in the Ukraine. The banned substances were shipped to Tucson. The package containing the substances was discovered in a mailbox while Welsh was out for a training ride.
According to the Reasoned Decision, which CCES made public on its website, Welsh was under “significant mental and emotional distress” at the time of purchasing the substances and had attempted to intercept the package to destroy its contents. It also noted that the contents were destroyed either on the day of, or the day after, receipt. “CCES believes (and has no evidence to the contrary) that the athlete has never used banned drugs and that the three drugs that he admitted buying were, in fact, destroyed.”
According to a statement from CCES, Welsh’s suspension was reduced by one year because he “promptly admitted to the violation and agreed to waive his hearing. He was entitled to request a sanction reduction pursuant to Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) Rule 10.6.3.”
With regard to Welsh’s sanction reduction, CCES’ statement also noted that, “in evaluating the potential sanction reduction, the CCES relied on its belief that Mr. Welsh was not using performance-enhancing drugs and did not use the banned substances he bought. Accordingly, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and CCES jointly agreed to a reduced sanction of three years ineligibility, ending on July 2, 2018.”
Welsh, 20, has accepted the three-year ban that started on July 2, 2015. In the CCES announcement, Welsh stated, “It is with great sadness that I comment today on my doping sanction. I am ashamed of my actions and will forever regret my poor choice. It is important for me to note that my family, coach, close friends, team and teammates had absolutely no knowledge of my decision to order banned substances.
“I fully cooperated with CCES because I wanted to be honest and to explain my experiences with doping in the sport of cycling. I take pride in the fact that I have never used a performance-enhancing substance. I hope that my experience can serve to inform and educate other young athletes regarding the risks and dangers of doping and to inspire them to not succumb to the desire to win at any cost.”