By Anthony Tan
Having withdrawn from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens following his admission to having used a prohibited substance, New Zealand track cyclist Anthony Peden made a formal return to top-level racing at the New Zealand national track championships, attempting to secure Commonwealth Games selection.
The 'Weapon', as he is nicknamed, won his heat of the Keirin on Friday and automatically qualifies for today's finals in Wanganui on New Zealand's North Island. Although the Keirin is not a Commonwealth Games event, Peden will be looking to be a member of the sprint team come March 15, when the Games begin in Melbourne.
In August 2004, he was sanctioned by the New Zealand Olympic Committee for failing to disclose he was administered intra-muscular injections of triamcinolone acetonide, a banned glucocortiscosteroid, by a German doctor between 19 and 28 July 2004 to treat lower back pain and sciatic nerve irritation. Peden belatedly applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) that was rejected by the IOC and WADA, which subsequently lead to his withdrawal from the NZ Olympic team in Athens.
A silver medallist in the Keirin from the 1999 world championships and previously an Australian citizen, he changed his nationality in March 1998 after numerous failed attempts to make selection on the Australian national team.
Peden made a low-key return to racing at the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals in December last year, winning the sprint derby on the second day of the Devonport Carnival, where he staged an audacious move to beat in-form riders Ben Kersten and Joel Leonard. "I'm not in my best form coming into these carnivals due to other commitments," he said after his victory, "but with the first qualifying runs for New Zealand selection five weeks away, I reckon I can give it a good nudge."