Zirbel unhappy about Di Luca ruling, feels there’s an error in the anti-doping system
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zirbel unhappy about Di Luca ruling, feels there’s an error in the anti-doping system

by Shane Stokes at 3:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
American says more serious dopers can get shorter bans than those who test positive accidentally

Tom ZirbelSuspended rider Tom Zirbel has outlined what for him is one of the big inconsistencies of the anti-doping movement, saying that while he is banned for 24 months for ingesting DHEA, that others who intentionally used more potent substances have the chance to serve shorter suspensions.

The former Bissell Racing competitor tested positive for DHEA at the 2009 USPRO TT championships, and was handed a two year ban by USADA in February of this year. He maintained that he never knowingly ingested a banned substance, and that the positive test was as a result of contamination.

He announced his retirement from the sport, but the nature of his most recent statement on his website suggests that he might be considering a return. Whether he ultimately does or not, he is clear in his belief that things have been set up wrong in the anti-doping fight.

“I have to admit that I've been a little down in the dumps lately. I've known that this WADA Code that rules over cycling and other sports is unfair at times but this latest example is downright ridiculous,” the American wrote.

Zirbel continued by talking about the Olympic 400 metre runner LaShawn Merritt, who tested positive for the same substance in autumn 2009. He had used the supplement ExtenZe and was able to show that this was tainted, thus being the reason for his positive test.

Zirbel quotes the USADA ruling, which confirmed that firstly the test was as a result of using ExtenZe bought at a 7-Eleven store, and that secondly he didn’t buy the substance to boost his performance.

“Okay, so USADA admits that he took it accidentally with no intent to cheat,” he wrote. “We also know that the scientific evidence of the performance enhancing benefits of DHEA are inconclusive at best. So, in light of these facts, what did the panel decide? They decided to reduce his sentence from 24 months to 21 months. A whopping 3 month reduction for a guy who took something that was mislabelled in his off-season which likely helped him athletically in no way.”

He then contrasted that with the recent CAS ruling on Danilo Di Luca. The Italian was runner-up in the 2009 Giro d’Italia but was later busted for CERA. “Di Luca realized he couldn't beat the charges so decided he'd detail to the anti-doping authorities his doping methods,” he wrote. “This disclosure was enough to get him a reduction from 24 months to 15 months. An admitted cheater, who won races 'doped to the gills' as they say, gets 15 months.

“That's our anti-doping system in a nutshell. If only I were an actual doper with knowledge of methods, suppliers, and other dopers - I too, could possibly get a reduction. Bummer, I guess I'll just have to sit out my 2 years,” he concluded, clearly frustrated.

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