Cycling Canada states that Hesjedal, Sheppard and McGrath can’t be punished if Rasmussen allegations are true
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cycling Canada states that Hesjedal, Sheppard and McGrath can’t be punished if Rasmussen allegations are true

by Shane Stokes at 3:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Federation states alleged offences are outside statute of limitations, but wants any rider with information to speak out

Ryder HesjedalCycling Canada has responded to news today of allegations made by Michael Rasmussen concerning Ryder Hesjedal, Chris Sheppard and Seamus McGrath, saying that if the claims of doping use in 2003 are true, that it hopes that the three riders will admit the offence and provide details which may be of use to anti-doping officials.

An excerpt from Rasmussen’s new book Yellow Fever was printed today by the Danish publication BT, and included claims that the three Canadian riders were coached in how to use EPO and Synacthen ten years ago.

Rasmussen said that they stayed with him in the buildup to that year’s world mountainbike championships, using the banned substances and ending up with haematocrit levels over 48 percent, and close to the UCI limit of 50.

“They stayed around fourteen days time. I trained with them in the Dolomites and taught them how to made vitamin injections and how you took EPO and Synacthen [cortisone],” he stated.

Hesjedal finished second in that year’s worlds, McGrath looked set to place between sixth or eighth but dropped out and Sheppard was sixteenth. He said the riders each received money from the Canadian government due to their performances, and that Hesjedal would have taken Olympic gold the following year had he not punctured.

The riders involved have not yet commented on the matter.

Commenting today, Cycling Canada said that it was concerned at the allegations, but also pointed out that it was too late to sanction the riders if they did indeed break the regulations in 2003.

“The WADA Code has a statute of limitations of eight years. As such, even if these three athletes admitted to these allegations, this information in and of itself would not result in anti-doping rule violations,” the federation wrote in a statement.

It said that it had been working with the country’s national anti-doping organization, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES), since the publication of the USADA report on Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team. However it said that the efforts to learn more about doping in Canadian cycling had been frustrated by the reluctance of athletes to speak out about their personal experiences in the area.

As a result, it said that encouraging sportspeople to speak out should be a priority. “We believe that the UCI and WADA should continue to work toward an agreement on an amnesty program that would relate historic cases of doping that are outside the statute of limitations,” the federation stated.

“This type of amnesty could allow cycling to deal with historic cases while learning the scope of the cheating and the methods that were employed to avoid detection.

“As for the Canadian riders cited in today’s allegations, if they have information they wish to share regarding their experiences in cycling and the issue of doping, it remains our hope that they will come forward should they have information that can assist in the fight against doping.”

Despite the statute of limitations preventing sanctions against anyone admitting doping use more than eight years ago, Cycling Canada said that it would punish “to the fullest extent allowed by the anti-doping regulations” anyone who breaks the rules.

Sheppard tested positive for EPO in an out of competition test taken on May 29th 2005. He received a two year ban. Hesjedal switched to road racing after the 2004 Games and won the Giro d’Italia in 2012. His current Garmin Sharp team has not yet commented on Rasmussen’s claims.

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