U23 gold medalist Szczepaniak explains EPO positive
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Friday, March 26, 2010

U23 gold medalist Szczepaniak explains EPO positive

by VeloNation Press at 5:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping, Cyclocross
 

Polish under-23 World Championship gold medalist Pawel Szczepaniak has explained the circumstances that led he and his brother Kacper down the road to a positive doping control for EPO at the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. He insists that just weeks prior to the competition, where his brother finished just behind in second place, the brothers had yet to be involved with the seedy world of doping.

"I feel like hell," he said to Het Laatste Nieuws. "I can assure you that three weeks before the World Championships I rode clean. But then it [his form] went downhill and I panicked.

"I met someone who said: 'I can make you World Champion.' There was no talk of EPO, only of vitamins. I liked the idea and I convinced my brother [Kacper]."

The brothers dominated the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic at the end of January, beating pre-race favorite Tom Meeusen of Belgium, who had dominated most of the races in the U23 category over the winter.

Szczepaniak admitted that he and his brother found cyclo-cross as a way to help their family break out of poverty in their home of Poland. "We wanted a better life for our parents," says Szczepaniak. "My father is bus driver and earns 250 euros per month, and my mother works in a salon.”

He said that when the letter came from the International Cycling Union (UCI) he knew that he had made a bad decision. "My father began to cry. Kacper my brother was so shocked that he no longer knew what he was doing, “ he explained.

Now the talented young riders have learned their lesson about doping the hard way, and realize that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. "My life is ruined and my brother too, " concluded Pawel. "Kacper hardly eats. All he does is sleep and stare straight ahead. We both go to a psychologist."

20-year-old Pawel had recently signed for the Belgian Telenet-Fidea team to join his brother, current senior World champion Zdenek Stybar and two-time World champion Bart Wellens. Soon after the news of the positive control Kacper attempted to commit suicide, but the 19-year-old was overpowered by his father.

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