CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African cyclist David George, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong, admitted using the blood-boosting drug EPO on Tuesday after failing a doping test.
George failed an out-of-competition test on Aug. 29, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport said Tuesday. He was provisionally suspended by Cycling South Africa and faces a two-year ban.
George cycled on Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team in 1999 and 2000. George said he wouldn’t ask for his B sample to be tested and would accept his punishment.
“I know the result will ultimately be the same. This decision will be communicated to Cycling South Africa (CSA) and Drug-Free Sport shortly and according to protocol,” George said in a statement: “I fully understand the consequences of my admission and will bear the results of this.”
Last month, Armstrong was banned for life by the International Cycling Union and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles because of his role in a doping scandal, which was outlined in a report by the U.S. Anti-doping Agency. Other former teammates testified against Armstrong in the report, which said he used steroids, EPO and blood transfusions.
George won silver in the road race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and bronze in the time trial in the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998. He also represented South Africa at two Olympics, in 1996 and 2000.
“Cycling, as you know, has been a confusing space, and although it has given me incredible moments it has also given me experiences that no person or young athlete should have to go through,” George said.
EPO, or Erythropoietin, increases the red blood cell count and increases an athlete’s oxygen carrying capacity.
“His biological passport indicated suspicious activity and that triggered a targeted test for EPO,” SAIDS chief executive Khalid Galant said in announcing the positive test Tuesday. “A subsequent urine test came back positive for the banned EPO drug.”
George apologized to his sponsors. But Nedbank, the backer of his current 360Life team, said it was immediately withdrawing its sponsorship.
“Nedbank has a zero tolerance towards the use of any banned substances or performance enhancing drugs and does not condone or support such use in any sport,” the South African bank said.
William Newman, the president of Cycling South Africa, said doping was “not endemic” in South African cycling despite the sport’s battered international image.
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