Olivia Ray, the winner of this year’s New Zealand’s road race title, has been suspended by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for two-and-a-half-years for the use and possession of multiple banned substances.
“After receiving information from a whistleblower in December 2021, USADA initiated an investigation that yielded evidence implicating Ray, who was living and competing in the United States at the time, in anti-doping rule violations,” USADA said in a statement.
“When confronted with the evidence, Ray fully cooperated, despite pressure for her not to do so, and admitted she was provided prohibited substances by another athlete, Jackson “Huntley” Nash, and committed the following anti-doping rule violations in 2021:
- Use of the Prohibited Substances Human Growth Hormone (hGH), clenbuterol, and oxandrolone
- Possession of the Prohibited Substances clenbuterol and oxandrolone
The 24-year-old, stepped into road cycling as a professional in 2021, racing with Rally Cycling and was set to continue with the team as it changed its name to Human Powered Health and shifted into the Women’s WorldTour in 2022. However, she was dropped from the roster early in the season. The only UCI-classified race on her results list for the year was the New Zealand Road Championships in February, where she took victory on an altered course, with windswept races as the remnants of Cyclone Dovi rolled through.
USADA said the 30-month period of ineligibility began on March 10, 2022, which is the date her provisional suspension was imposed. Ray admitted the violation and accepted the sanction, so qualified for a reduction in the four-year period and her suspension was also reduced for a further six months for providing substantial assistance in the case against Nash, with whom she had previously been in a relationship. Nash received a lifetime ban.
"In addition, Ray’s competitive results on and subsequent to May 17, 2021, the date Nash raised with Ray using hGH and/or other prohibited substances, have been disqualified, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes," said USADA. That period includes her win at the Grant Park Criterium – where she claimed the richest single-day prize purse, $21,000, in North America for pro women at the time – and her New Zealand Championships road race victory.
"Cycling New Zealand fully supports the actions of USADA regarding the suspension handed down to New Zealand cyclist Olivia Ray," said the organisation in a statement. "In line with the USADA actions, Cycling New Zealand will investigate any races involving Ray in New Zealand from 17 May 2021.
"While reiterating its strict stance that doping has no place in the sport, Cycling New Zealand will continue to reach out to Ray to provide support during this challenging time for the rider."
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.