South African cycling champion David George has been banned from the sport for two years for a doping offence.
This according to the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS).
"George waived his right to attend his hearing, which went ahead anyway on December 1," SAIDS chief executive Khalid Galant said in a statement.
"He admitted guilt prior to the hearing and preferred the sanction to be determined as soon as possible. The athlete has the right to waive his participation in a hearing without prejudice."
George tested positive in an out-of-competition test conducted by the SAIDS on August 29.
He is a former Olympian, a podium finisher in the Cape Epic, and a former Lance Armstrong team-mate on the United States Postal Service Cycling team 1999 to 2000.
The hearing was conducted by an independent tribunal.
Forfeited prize money
"In addition to the ban, any points or prize money obtained after the August 29 is forfeited and monies have to be repaid," Galant said. "Money has to be repaid to race organisers of the Cape Pioneer Trek MTB race, which David George and Kevin Evans won after August 29 and results will have to be re-issued."
George and Evans won a total of R125 000 during this year's race Cape Pioneer Trek MTB race which would have to be repaid to the organisers.
Galant said George had claimed his EPO doping was isolated to himself and he could not provide SAIDS with information in terms of an infrastructure of doping.
Therefore, he received the standard two-year ban, as there were no grounds for a reduction in the sanction. However, Galant said George had committed to assist SAIDS in its test planning so that its target testing could be more robust in addressing doping in endurance sport.
"As a former professional cyclist, he provides a unique lens into how our test distribution planning can mitigate against high doping risk periods and what is going through the minds of athletes when they attempt to beat the system," he said. "We welcome this commitment from George as part of attempt to atone for the doping offence to the cycling community."
Vigorous drug testing
SAIDS warned the sports community a year ago it would be vigorous in its testing of both the blood and urine of South Africa's top athletes.
"We will continue to aggressively target EPO dopers and we will be increasing 'out of competition' testing of cyclists for EPO, a hormone that artificially increases the red blood cell count, therefore increasing the athlete's oxygen carrying capacity, and in turn enhances performance," Galant said.
He warned that the institute would increase the quantity of testing, not only for cycling but also to other endurance sports like triathlon, running and canoeing. – Sapa