COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO– We’ve been lucky in cyclocross to have a sport that has been thus far mostly untainted by doping. However, the rest of the cycling world hasn’t been as lucky, and USADA announced today in a press release that Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral (cycling team doctor), Dr. Michele Ferrari (cycling team consulting doctor) and Jose “Pepe”Martí (cycling team trainer) have all received lifetime periods of ineligibility as the result of their anti-doping rule violations in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy.
“The objective of USADA’s investigation into the sport of cycling is to protect the rights of clean athletes by ridding sport of those in the system, whether coach, doctor, trainer, or manager who abuses their influence by encouraging, coercing or assisting athletes in cheating through the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition.”
Dr. del Moral, of Valencia, Spain, was the team physician for the USPS Cycling Team from 1999 through 2003. Until recently Dr. del Moral was affiliated with a sports medicine clinic in Valencia, Spain. USADA’s evidence is that after 2003, Dr. del Moral assisted individual cyclists, including a number of former USPS team members, with their doping. The evidence in Dr. del Moral’s case demonstrated that from 2000 he was intimately involved in the prohibited method of blood transfusions which cyclists use to boost the number of circulating red blood cells to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and increase endurance. Dr. del Moral brought riders to his sports medicine clinic in Valencia, Spain where he withdrew blood for prohibited blood transfusions. Dr. del Moral also assisted with saline infusions in order to keep the rider’s blood levels below threshold levels to avoid detection of their drug use. In addition to blood transfusions and saline infusions, Dr. del Moral administered banned performance- enhancing drugs including EPO, testosterone, corticosteroids and hGH to cyclists by providing these drugs to them, recommending the use of these drugs and directly injecting riders with these prohibited drugs.
Dr. Ferrari, of Ferrara, Italy was a consulting doctor to numerous USPS and Discovery Channel Cycling Team riders during the period from at least 1999 through 2006. Since the 1990s to the present, Dr. Ferrari has been a consultant to numerous cyclists and several cycling teams. Dr. Ferrari was brought to several USPS training camps, including in the United States, where USPS team riders worked with him. Dr. Ferrari developed a distinctive mixture of testosterone and olive oil to be administered under the tongue to assist in recovery during races and training. This mixture was known among team members as the “oil.” Dr. Ferrari also advised riders on the use of the banned oxygen enhancer erythropoietin (“EPO”) with detailed instructions regarding clearance times, how the EPO drug test worked and how to avoid detection of the drug. Dr. Ferrari specifically advised riders to inject EPO intravenously in order to avoid the drug showing up in a urine drug test. Dr. Ferrari was present and assisted during instances of prohibited blood doping and EPO use by USPS team members. Dr. Ferrari developed detailed training schedules for riders which included coded symbols designating when EPO should be used and the amount of the drug to inject.
Mr. Martí, also of Valencia, Spain, was a trainer for the USPS and Discovery Channel Cycling Teams during the period from 1999 through 2007 and thereafter worked for the Astana Cycling Team. Mr. Martí delivered performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH) and cortisone from Valencia, Spain to locations where the riders were living in Europe including Nice, France and Girona, Spain and at training camps and cycling races. Mr. Martí was also involved in assisting with injections of EPO, saline infusions for avoiding detection by drug testing and in transfusing blood to riders.
The anti-doping rule violations for which del Moral, Ferrari and Martí are receiving sanctions include:
(1) Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfusion equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids, and masking agents.
(2) Trafficking of EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids and masking agents.
(3) Administration and/or attempted administration of EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids, and masking agents.
(4) Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.
These activities are defined as anti-doping rule violations under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the International Cycling Union (UCI) Anti-Doping Rules (UCI ADR), both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the WADA Prohibited List.
In accordance with the WADA Code and UCI ADR, aggravating circumstances including involvement in multiple anti-doping rule violations as well as trafficking, administration and/or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or method, justify a period of ineligibility greater than the standard sanction, and as such, all parties involved have received a lifetime period of ineligibility for their anti-doping rule violations. A Lifetime period of Ineligibility as described in the Code prevents these individuals from participating in any activity or competition organized by any signatory to the Code or any member of any signatory.
The other respondents in this case have either asked for and been granted a five-day extension to complete their response, or have requested to move forward with an arbitration hearing where all evidence will be presented, witness testimony will be given under oath, and an independent group of arbitrators will ultimately decide the outcome of the case. USADA will continue to follow all of the established procedures that were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and all Olympic sports organizations in compliance with federal law.
In an effort to aid athletes, as well as all support team members such as parents and coaches, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on its website on the testing process and prohibited substances, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. In addition, the agency manages a drug reference hotline, Drug Reference Online (www.GlobalDRO.com), conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and proactively distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as the Prohibited List, easy-reference wallet cards, periodic newsletters, and protocol and policy reference documentation.
USADA is responsible for the testing and results management process for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.