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Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling)
USPRO silver medallist facing USADA hearing
Just a month after he announced he had returned a non-negative test for DHEA at the 2009 USPRO TT championships, American rider Tom Zirbel has confirmed that his B-sample analysis is also positive.
“As expected (though hope plays funny games with your mind), the 'B' sample of my urine has come back confirming the presence of an exogenous anabolic in my system from the Aug. 29, 2009 test,” Zirbel wrote on his online blog.
“I expect USADA to come back with a two-year sanction any day now but I'm tired of waiting for them so I decided to let everyone know what's going on.”
31 year-old Zirbel took his second-consecutive silver medal in the USPRO championships at the end of August, finishing behind Garmin’s Dave Zabriskie.
He then took fourth overall behind Zabriskie in the Tour of Missouri, going on from there to represent USA in the world championships in Mendrisio. He was fourth in the time trial, finishing 2’47 behind the winner Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and 17 seconds off the bronze medal of German’s Tony Martin.
The then-Bissell Pro Cycling team rider looked set for a breakthrough season in 2010 and had signed a contract with the Garmin-Transitions team, giving him a chance to race regularly in Europe. However he learned of his positive test for DHEA in mid-November, leading to the loss of his Garmin contract.
Since then, he’s been waiting for the B sample result, and has now revealed the outcome.
“There will probably be a hearing in a few months where I will proclaim my innocence,” he wrote. “We all know the drill! How many times have we been through this with this sport? I even secured one of those lawyer fellas to help me through this. We are still attempting to figure out how this happened and I'm optimistic that we'll have an answer in time for the hearing."
“I'm sorry that this is more negative press for the sport of cycling, but that is the least of my worries right now.”
It is believed – but not confirmed - that supplement contamination will be Zirbel's line of defence. He has insisted that he never knowingly took a banned substance. A number of his fellow professionals have expressed surprise at his test result.
He is the third US rider to test positive for the substance in the past twelve months. Tyler Hamilton and Kenny Williams were also found to have DHEA in their systems, and have been suspended for eight and two years respectively.