American cyclo-cross rider Jonathan Page missed a post-race doping control at the fourth round of the UCI's World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium, on November 29. The 32 year-old silver medallist at the 2007 cyclo-cross world championships now has to await a hearing from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and potentially faces a two-year ban.
"I'm relying on a hearing from USADA and I can only hope that they listen to our story that is was nothing but a stupid mistake," a devastated Page said to Cyclingnews.
The UCI's cyclo-cross coordinator Peter Van den Abeele confirmed to sport.be that Page didn't show up for the post-race control in Koksijde. "When I talked with Page about this he was devastated and really upset," Van den Abeele said. "He was so upset by the news that he didn't start in Zolder despite having the right to start in the race."
The Belgian said that the UCI's legal and doping departments would look into the case in the upcoming days. "He can't escape some sort of punishment but I'm certainly not the man to judge on that."
Page pulled out of the Koksijde World Cup after a crash on the third lap and left the race venue unaware of his selection for doping controls. A few weeks later, on December 19, Page received a letter which stated he missed a post-race doping control in Koksijde.
"It was the first time he or I had heard of it [the missed doping control]," said Cori Page, Jonathan's wife.
"Jonathan had a crash, was hurt and went back the mobile home," explained Cori about the day in Koksijde. "When I didn't see him anymore in the race, I of course got worried and went back to the mobile home, too. Jonathan was busy calling his doctor, who was in Denmark at the time, to schedule an appointment, and then the contract agent to report that he would not be able to do the race the following day. I was busy talking to Jonathan about the crash and whether or not he was ok and how he was holding up mentally.
"I didn't remember to go to the finish line to check for doping at the end of the race. I'm usually his backup and I failed," continued Cori. "Our second backup is a guy who is at most of the races helping another rider. He checks the control list, too, but on the days where there are chaperones no one worries because the riders will be picked up and escorted to the control. Koksijde was a race with chaperones.
"Additionally, there are all of the other soigneurs and even some of the officials," said Cori. "When they hear a rider's name called, they all help each other by either finding the rider in person or calling the rider on the phone. None of that happened for Jonathan that day. He had absolutely no idea he was on the list. And after many calls, we came to find out that really no one had any idea, as far as we could tell.
"The only bit of luck Jonathan has had in this situation was that at his appointment with the doctor he had his blood taken as part of his checkup since he was overdue anyway," said Cori. "We offered the test to the anti-doping agency and anyone else that wants to see it. As always, no drugs. At least this way, if he does get suspended for missing that test, he will have been suspended just for his mistake, not for being a doper. Jonathan is far from a doper. Everyone important to us knows that.
Page is now back at his home in Oudenaarde, Belgium. He will be racing on Sunday evening at the Superprestige race in Diegem. Cori Page said, "Jonathan can try to pick up the pieces and race. I will be amazed if he can even make it a lap."