Two amateur cyclists tested positive for EPO at the May 20 Gran Fondo New York, the event organizers announced Monday. David Anthony of New York City admitted to taking EPO, while the second rider is awaiting the result of his B sample.
Anthony won the men’s 45-49 division of the amateur race, which drew 5,000 cyclists.
“There is no easy way to say this -- I was using ways to improve my performance that were cheating,” Anthony said in a statement published on NYVelocity, the website run by his BH/Comedy Central team manager Andy Shen, who has long been a strident anti-doping voice in the cycling community. “This was something that I alone did, and I take responsibility for it. My team, coaches and friends had absolutely no knowledge or participation in this.”
Gran Fondo New York CEO Ulrich Fluhme wasn’t pleased.
"Of course we were shocked to hear the news on the positive tests,” Fluhme said. “EPO is a blood boosting drug that has to be injected and is not a simple over the counter product. Doping control helps clean riders have fair competition.”
Fluhme said the event began testing this year with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency because the prize list was more than $100,000. “The winner, for example, got a $8,000 bike,” he said. “We want clean competition.”
USADA's Annie Skinner confirmed that Anthony tested positive for synthetic EPO.
"We know that the win-at-all-costs culture in sport today creates an environment where the temptation to cheat affects all levels of competition and we appreciate Mr. Anthony being honest about his actions and accepting responsibility," Skinner said in a statement she sent BikeRadar. "The details of his case and his suspension under the established rules are still to be finalized.”
In addition to the testing after the finish line, which snared the two positives, GFNY also carried out pre-competition testing.
“We sent a list of some of the top riders from last year to USADA,” Fluhme said. “They choose a few from that pool and sent testers to their home addresses and tested them. All those were clean.”
Use of EPO, GFNY CEO Fluhme said, "is just full-on, blatant doping"
NYVelocity’s Shen told BikeRadar that, in retrospect, Anthony’s recent performances had been suspicious.
“He was winning in some dominant ways,” Shen said. “When most people found out, quite a few of them said, ‘I’m not shocked at all.’”
Shen runs the BH/Comedy Central amateur cycling team, and has known Anthony for four or five years. Shen is also one of two main editors behind NYVelocity.com, which has often criticized and mocked pro cyclists who dope. With an amateur on his team now a confessed doper, Shen suddenly finds himself in an awkward place.
“It sucks,” Shen said. “It absolutely sucks. But he screwed up. We’re trying to do the confession right, for a change. And we’re going to try to get him to talk and say as much as possible.”
Gran Fondo New York President Lidia Fluhme said she is all for Anthony speaking about doping, even in conjunction with her event.
"He's done the first step: not fighting the test result,” Fluhme said. “Now he has the opportunity to apologize to his rivals as well as reveal his suppliers and anyone else involved. While we will never again allow him to participate in Gran Fondo New York, we're inviting him for a Q&A with other athletes provided he does all of the above. Instead of just admitting it and going away from cycling, we hope he can become an outspoken advocate against doping, help cyclists who are doping to stop doping, and raise money for doping control programs at local races."
This isn’t the first time a US masters racer has tested positive for EPO. Michigan resident Neal Schubel was suspended in 2010.
Anthony was not immediately available for comment.