Doping hits South Africa

The cycling scene of South Africa has been shaken recently when Shawn Lynch, a former track racer twice suspended for doping practices, admitted in a TV show that he specialized in advising sports people how to use banned substances. On Sunday, September 24, Lynch told Carte Blanche on M-Net that the persons he advised included children and cyclists.

In an interview with Beeld, Lynch said: "It's not as if I tie up children and then inject them with something from behind. The parents approach me and ask me to help." Products on which Lynch allegedly advised included steroids, growth hormones and EPO.

Lynch this week denied having also supplied any of these banned substances, but Carte Blanche claims it has footage of the cyclist admitting to "sometimes supplying illegal substances", which will be aired this upcoming Sunday.

Lynch claimed that during his time as a track rider, a senior cycling official had always warned him in time when he would be tested for banned substances so that he could take precautions. He also added that the challenge was "to always be one step ahead of the Institute for Drug-free Sport," and confessed to selling substances when he was in Europe.

Lawrence Whittaker, president of Cycling South Africa (CSA), has reacted on Thursday on the affair, sending out a press release in which he assured that "CSA has zero tolerance towards drug use. We will do everything within our power to root out this growing evil which threatens the future of our sport, at every level. With particular reference to the Carte Blanche programme, we will have to follow up individuals concerned."

Whittaker also announced that a fund to fight doping in the sport was being created, and said that he was "currently exploring the viability of voluntary polygraph (lie detection) testing for cyclists, the idea being that cyclists who voluntarily and successfully undergo a lie detector test establishing that they are drug free will be given a wrist band to wear. [...] Lie detector tests are, I understand, 98 percent accurate.

"I stress that this would be a voluntary programme and my sincere hope would be that it would gain massive momentum over a short period of time and at a fraction of the cost required for expensive blood and urine testing," the statement continued. "Hopefully we could get to a point where, if a leading cyclist, was not wearing the wrist band, he would feel compelled to undergo the test or drop out of the sport altogether. To ensure viability, questions would only be asked about a cyclist's history over say the last 6 months, but the test would be done at regular intervals and a national register would be kept."

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