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The story of the most accomplished U.S. cyclocrosser of all time came took an unexpected turn yesterday, with USADA announcing that Katie Compton has been suspended for four years for an anti-doping rule violation.

The 15-time USA Cycling Cyclocross National Champion and four-time Worlds medalist has retired and ended her cyclocross career with the announcement.

Katie Compton works to hold McFadden off in the last lap. Elite Women. 2019 Cyclocross National Championships, Lakewood, WA. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Katie Compton works to hold McFadden off in the last lap. Elite Women. 2019 Cyclocross National Championships, Lakewood, WA. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The 42-year-old Compton has been outspoken against doping in the past, tweeting about the news of Denise Betsema’s anabolic steroid positive test and backdated 6-month sentence and doubting Betsema’s defense, telling Cycling Weekly that “There are plenty of brand options on the market in Europe and the US that an athlete can be confident in taking for whatever they feel they need that they can’t get from nutrition alone.”

Now Compton faces a penalty eight times the length of Betsema’s sentence, a term that was reduced due to “unintentional anti-doping rule violations.”

Compton hangs up her racing bike six months earlier than planned, as she hoped to retire after racing the 2022 Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Katie Compton finished third after a tough fight on Sunday. Elite Women. 2019 Cyclocross National Championships, Lakewood, WA. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Katie Compton finished third after a tough fight on Sunday. Elite Women. 2019 Cyclocross National Championships, Lakewood, WA. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Her ban is backdated starting from September 16, 2020, the date of the out-of-competition test.

See USADA’s full press release below, as well as Katie Compton’s own statement.

Stay tuned for more on this breaking story.

USADA Announcement on Katie Compton’s Four-Year Ban

USADA announced today that Katherine Compton, of Colorado Springs, Colo., an athlete in the sport of cycling, has accepted a four-year suspension for an anti-doping rule violation.

Compton, 42, tested positive for an anabolic agent as the result of an out-of-competition drug test on September 16, 2020. Her urine sample was analyzed using a specialized test, known as Carbon Isotope Ratio testing, that differentiates between anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) naturally produced by the body and prohibited anabolic agents of external origin. Anabolic agents have powerful performance-enhancing capabilities and can give an athlete an unfair advantage over fellow competitors.

All AAS are Non-Specified Substances in the class of Anabolic Agents and are prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy, and the Union Cycliste Internationale Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

Compton’s four-year period of ineligibility began on September 16, 2020, the date her positive sample was collected. In addition, Compton has been disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to September 16, 2020, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

In an effort to aid athletes, as well as 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 file and update athlete Whereabouts, 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, USADA manages a drug reference hotline, Global Drug Reference Online (www.GlobalDRO.com), conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as an easy-reference wallet card with examples of prohibited and permitted substances, a supplement guide, a nutrition guide, an athlete handbook, and periodic alerts and advisories.

USADA makes available a number of ways to report the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in sport in an effort to protect clean athletes and promote clean competition. Any tip can be reported using the USADA Play Clean Tip Center, by email at playc[email protected], by phone at 1-877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253) or by mail.

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.

Katie Compton’s Personal Statement Before the USADA Announcement

This news comes with great heartache and sadness, and it is the worst possible way to end my cycling career. I need to preface this news with the fact that I have always been a clean athlete, and I am proud of how much I have accomplished racing clean and being very careful with whatever I put into my body, especially after dealing with so many health issues throughout my life.

I provided a sample for USADA in September 2020 that came back negative for any banned substances, it was not even atypical. That news was communicated to me in the same way it has always been via a letter from USADA. I’ve received that same letter after every test I’ve submitted for the last 19 years. In early February of 2021, after returning from a difficult race season, I learned that the same sample from September was re-analyzed due to a bio-passport irregularity and found to be positive for an exogenous anabolic steroid. This was devastating news to me as I have never intentionally or knowingly put anything like that into my body. I know how delicate women’s hormones are, and I would never choose to take anything to jeopardize my health and, as a result, suffer irreparable damage to my endocrine system. And not only that, I never took anything for ethical and moral reasons; I’ve been a strong proponent of clean sport my entire career and feel doing anything to enhance one’s own natural ability is cheating, full stop.

Despite deciding to retire in March, I also felt the need to try and defend myself and my reputation. I hired a lawyer and did my best to investigate how the substance got into my system but was unsuccessful in finding that answer. Over the past six months, I learned that I cannot prove that I didn’t intentionally take anything, and I can’t afford to keep fighting knowing the outcome will be the same regardless. Unfortunately, seeing that it was five months between the sample collection and the notification, trying to figure what allegedly got into my body proved to be impossible, and I have decided to stop fighting an expensive and difficult battle and accept the sanction.

“Unfortunately, seeing that it was five months between the sample collection and the notification, trying to figure what allegedly got into my body proved to be impossible, and I have decided to stop fighting an expensive and difficult battle and accept the sanction.” -Katie Compton

So, it is with great stress and sorrow that I’ve ended my competitive career. My friends and family know how much I’m against doping and know it is a topic in which I have always been outspoken. This news is gut-wrenching to me and the worst period I’ve ever experienced during my life so far. I’ve processed all the emotions over the past year and realized that I don’t need bike racing in my life anymore. I still love riding my bike and enjoying that with friends, but I have no desire to ever race or be competitive again, which is probably good since the sanction includes a four-year ban from competition.

I wanted to share this news prior to USADA releasing it to the public so you hear it from me first. I’m obviously stepping away from the competitive cycling world for the next few years and don’t know what my future within the sport may look like post-sanction, but I want people to know that I’ll miss the racing community, specifically all the amazing people I’ve met along the way who simply share the love of riding bikes. I’ll always cherish the experiences and wonderful adventures cycling has given me while also acknowledging that it has brought me plenty of heartache and disappointment, and I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted. Ending my career this way is simply soul-crushing. It physically hurts and makes me incredibly sad.

“I’m obviously stepping away from the competitive cycling world for the next few years and don’t know what my future within the sport may look like post sanction, but I want people to know that I’ll miss the racing community, specifically all the amazing people I’ve met along the way who simply share the love of riding bikes.” -Katie Compton