In a statement posted on his website Thursday afternoon, Tom Danielson said his four-year ban from competition that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced earlier in the day is part of an agreement he reached with the agency after determining his positive sample in 2015 was the result of an unintentional ingestion.
The finding is the second doping offence for Danielson, who was banned for six months in 2012 after admitting to doping while on the US Postal Service Team as part of his testimony against Lance Armstrong, and could have led to an eight-year or lifetime ban for the 38-year-old American.
“Today, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has agreed to issue me a reduced ban of four years, instead of the standard eight years for a second anti-doping violation, for my positive test on July 9, 2015,” the statement Danielson released today claims.
“The basis for this reduced ban is unintentional ingestion of DHEA as the result of contamination from a supplement containing Maca root. The manufacturer of this Maca root product also produces a supplement containing DHEA, in the same facility, and this is likely how the contamination occurred.”
USADA did not immediately respond to Cyclingnews’ request for comment, but the announcement released on the agency's website did not address Danielson's claim that the substance he tested positive for - "an exogenous Androgenic Anabolic Steroid (AAS) and/or its metabolites" - was ingested inadvertently.
Nevertheless, Danielson reiterarted in his statement that he he continues to be firmly against doping in sport.
“I wrongly went down that path many years ago, which I have acknowledged was bad judgment on my part," he said. "I paid dearly for it, both physically and mentally, which led me to stop this behavior and take a strong stance against it.”
Danielson’s ban will end on August 3, 2019, when he is 41 years old. Danielson's team in 2015, Cannondale-Garmin, immediately suspend him that same year when his B sample also returned a positive result, and he has not raced since. He currently coaches athletes through his Cinch Cycling Coaching company and conducts training camps in Arizona.
Danielson's entire statement is posted below:
Today, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has agreed to issue me a reduced ban of four years, instead of the standard eight years for a second anti-doping violation, for my positive test on July 9, 2015. The basis for this reduced ban is unintentional ingestion of DHEA as the result of contamination from a supplement containing Maca root. The manufacturer of this Maca root product also produces a supplement containing DHEA, in the same facility, and this is likely how the contamination occurred.
First, I would like to thank everyone for their patience and support over the past 14 months. It has been a testing experience and one that has ultimately shaped me as a human being for the better.
Second, I would like to restate that I am firmly against doping in sport. I wrongly went down that path many years ago, which I have acknowledged was bad judgment on my part. I paid dearly for it, both physically and mentally, which led me to stop this behavior and take a strong stance against it. I joined Slipstream Sports in 2008, an organization created on the foundation of clean sport, as one of its first members with the belief that we could create a clean team, staunch in its stance against doping. Since the beginning of the team’s creation, I have actively promoted and participated in ethical and clean sport. I was with this team until my career ended, unexpectedly, on August 3, 2015, when I was informed of my anti-doping violation.
Since then, I have spent countless hours, and a significant amount of money, to find out what happened. Any money I have spent on this case has only been used on research, not as a defense strategy — WADA rules for cases like mine are based on “strict liability” and I must accept the punishment, despite unintentionally consuming a prohibited substance. The reason I invested countless months into determining the cause of this positive test was solely to help me find closure. Since August 3, 2015, I have been torn apart inside, and I needed the answer to help me with the healing process.
For the past 14 months I have felt beaten and battered, dragged through the mud, and scarred internally. Some of this I deserved, due to my mistakes in the past, and some of this I didn’t. The reality is that life can be harsh at times. Along my journey, several people reached out to me and shared injustices, and life-changing experiences, that were on a much larger scale. This helped me realize how small all of this is in the big picture. With all of those inspirational stories, I am choosing to use the reality that life can be harsh and unfair to become a stronger, better version of myself.
"From this day on, I hope to change people’s lives in a different way than I have previously. I hope that my story and actions, moving forward, can inspire people to reinvent themselves. I’m currently taking this approach in my work with recreational cyclists. No matter how many scars a person may have, no matter how damaged they are, no matter what people say about them, and no matter how impossible life seems, I hope I can, somehow, help them use all of it to become a better version of themselves — to reinvent themselves, through cycling.
Thank you for your understanding, and for all the cheering out on the road all those years. I look forward to riding a different path with you all for this next chapter."