Tom Zirbel recently broke the record time of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong at the Tour de Gruene Bicycle Classic in Austin, Texas this weekend, an event not subject to control by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Code. Zirbel is currently serving a two-year suspension for a doping infraction that will be complete in November 2011.
Zirbel told Cyclingnews,. "The race organizer from Gruene assured me that they have no affiliation with USA Cycling, International Cycling Union or any other signatory of the WADA Code." Zirbel rode the 25 km out and back parcours in a time of 32:15, nearly one minute faster than the previous course record set by Armstrong in 2008.
"I had fun with it, it was cool to play 'bike racer' again," said Zirbel, who celebrated his birthday on race day with friends in Austin. "The course record was set in 2008 at 33:14. It is just an out and back course along the river, so it's pretty straight forward."
"I haven't been 'training,' but I don't own a car so I ride almost everywhere and I manage to get some intensity in here and there," he added. "I broke the course record, which was encouraging. Some Austin local legend held it before me, but he obviously isn't in the same class as me."
Last December, Zirbel announced that he tested positive in an anti-doping test conducted by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) following the US Pro time trial championships on August 29, 2009. Both A and B samples returned positive for an endogenous steroid Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). He denied knowingly ingesting the banned substance and is currently seeking a reduced sanction.
"I'm actually working with a legal team and they're still trying to get me a reduction in sanction, but I'm not holding my breath," Zirbel said. "We were never able to find definitive evidence of what caused the positive so it's an uphill battle."
WADA Code article 10.10.1 states, ‘No Athlete or other Person who has been declared ineligible may, during the period of ineligibility, participate in any capacity in a Competition or activity (other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs) authorized or organized by any Signatory, Signatory's member organization, or a club or other member organization of a Signatory's member organization, or in Competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international- or national-level Event organization.'
Tour de Gruene Executive Director, Will Rotzler reiterated that his event is not a sanctioned race and is not affiliated with the USAC, UCI or WADA Code. "The only thing you get from competing in the Tour de Gruene, besides a great ride and test of abilities, and the beautiful scenery, is entrance into Wurstfest, New Braunfels 10-day salute to sausage festival, celebrating its German heritage."