American Tom Zirbel is in the midst of a potential storm as he awaits the results of a B sample anti-doping test from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). If it corresponds to a positive A sample for Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) it could cost him a two-year suspension.
The 6'5" time trialist, known to many as the 'Friendly Giant,' has chosen to look on the brighter side, however. "I have a t-shirt that says this on it," Zirbel said in his latest blog entitled 'Mi Bicicleta o Mi Muerte'. "It has a picture of a phat cruiser bike with long handlebars ("Easy Rider" style) that is popular in some Mexican cultures. I'd have to say that in light of my current situation - I'm bluffing."
The blog's main page showcases a humorous photo of Zirbel, a tall blonde with a 200-pound frame, barreling head first down a sand dune. The latest headline is taken from a well-known Spanish saying printed on one of his t-shirts that when translated reads, 'My bicycle or my death.'
"I love the sport of cycling and more specifically I love racing my bike," he continued. "But if that is taken away from me, I'm not going to give up on life or play the victim. Life is too full of OTHER cool and exciting things that I can dive into head first. It's also far too short to dwell in the past and be miserable.
"Typing these words is much easier than putting their message into practice but I'm confident that if it comes to that, I can do it... with the continued support of my kick ass network of friends and family."
The 31-year-old American announced he tested positive in an anti-doping test conducted by the USADA following the US Pro time trial championships on August 29, 2009. The A sample returned positive for an endogenous steroid DHEA. He awaits the response of the B sample.
Both samples were tested at the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) at the University of Utah.
"On a lighter note, I also have a t-shirt that says "cycling is dope" which I still think is a great shirt," Zirbel added. "So great, in fact, that I wore it to the opening and testing of the 'B' sample in Utah. Bad form? I thought it was funny, and I'm in need of laughs these days."
Zirbel spent the last three years contracted with the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. In September, he announced that he would be making a move to the ProTour ranks in 2010 with Garmin-Transition, a long time dream. Subsequently, his contract was terminated two weeks ago upon notice of his positive A sample.
Zirbel stated that he did not knowingly ingest DHEA and that he, along with a team of specialists, are working to find out why his urine produced elevated levels of the steroid. Should his B sample reveal a duplicate positive, Zirbel has stated that he will try to prove that he did not knowingly ingest DHEA and try to get the suspension reduced.
In the meantime, he expressed gratitude to his support network as he waits for the results of the B sample.
"Thank you to all of you who have shown your support through emails, calls, texts, and comments on this blog," Zirbel said. "It means the world to me. And to those of you who think I'm a lying cheat, I can't say that I blame you really. It was always my first reaction to news of another positive test.
"But hopefully we can find and prove the truth in the coming days, weeks, months," he added.
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