Health Net releases O'Neill after positive test

Nathan O'Neill (Health Net-Maxxis)

Nathan O'Neill (Health Net-Maxxis) (Image credit: Mark Zalewski)

American Professional Continental squad Health Net-Maxxis has announced the termination of Australian Nathan O'Neill's contract as of October 29, following the star rider's non-negative test for prescription appetite suppressant Phentermine. The World Anti-Doping Agency's code allows riders to use prescribed Phentermine out of competition, but no trace amounts are allowed in a rider's system during competition.

The Health Net squad was informed on September 24 that O'Neill's A sample returned the positive result in a test performed on August 12, following the Tour of Elk Grove. The rider's B sample confirmed the positive result in a test performed on October 24, leading to his dismissal when the squad was informed of the B sample result October 29.

"The Team has a zero tolerance policy regarding the failure of any of its riders to pass a UCI/WADA-sanctioned medical examination, which is grounds for immediate termination in accordance with the Team's standard Rider Agreement, which all riders have signed," read a short statement from the team. "Nathan has been a valuable member of the team and has achieved many exceptional results. Nonetheless, it is the team's policy to treat all riders fairly and consistently, and by the terms of our Rider Agreement."

While O'Neill did have a prescription for Phentermine, which means his possession of it was legal, but its use failed to meet the guidelines of the UCI/WADA code and that set out by the team's medical director.

"We wish him and his family the very best in the future. At present, this is now a personal matter between Nathan and UCI/WADA, and the team will not comment on it any further," concluded the team's statement.

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