Updated: Argentinian XC Racer Paula Quirós Suspended for EPO Use

Nov 24, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Quirós (right) with coach Ignacio Gili (left). Photo: Instagram (@gilibikemtb)

Paula Quirós, 31, an Argentinian XC rider who finished 28th at the 2019 World Championships, has been suspended by the UCI after returning a positive test for EPO.

EPO (Erythropoietin) stimulates the production of red blood cells and has banned in and out of competition since the 1990s. It is the drug that was at the centre of the Festina Affair and was used by Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Team.

The current World number 39 returned her Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) on March 7 after finishing second in a race in Araxá, Brazil, just before the country's lockdown for COVID-19. Quirós was told about her results at the end of October and has been provisionally suspended for four years and could also face a fine.

An architect by trade, Quirós had hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, although she will now likely face a lengthy suspension for the infringement however, she is hoping to reduce her suspension as she claims she took the drug involuntarily.

In an interview with El Territorio, she revealed that she initially believed the test was false and was going to ask for a second sample but she was contacted by her coach, Ignacio Gili, who said he had injected her with EPO. He gave her the injection in January while the pair were at a high-altitude training camp and apparently told her it was iron and vitamin B12. Regardless of the reason for the AAF, Quiros remains ultimately responsible for the substances in her body as laid out by WADA's Strict Liability rules but special circumstances can be taken into account when sanctions are handed out.

Quiros told the paper, "This is very hard, but it makes me realize that you have to know how to choose a coach well, whatever the situation ends up being partly my responsibility. The worst of all is to think that I don't know if it was just that time, I already doubt everything."

She continued, "He ruined my life, but he is going to take care of everything, but the damage has already been done, what do I do now? How do I start again? Because it's going to be my name, my family's name, and not all people are going to know the real story. It's very serious."


Update:

Thanks to pb user @sgvmtb, who forwarded on this statement from Quiros' coach Ignacio Gili in which he now denies giving Quiros EPO. Note, the quote has been translated from Spanish and edited for clarity.

Given the facts that are in the public domain, in which I am accused of having supplied a prohibited substance to an athlete that I directed, it is my duty as a sportsman to give my version of what really happened.

It is true that, for the month of January of this year, on the occasion of training in altitude, and for this I assume full responsibility, I advised and gave the athlete an injection of B12 and iron, in order to strengthen her immune system.

My responsibility is assumed by having administered medication not being a medical professional, but due to my state of health it is what I always place myself on and I believed that it would best help with recovery before the effort.

According to the athlete's statement, it was on that occasion that I gave her that contaminated medicine, however, the anti-doping tests were carried out in March, in Brazil, when she was accompanied by her whole family, with me as assistant and coach. Although I accompanied her and advised her on the entire training plan, I never gave her any program of the substance that appeared in her anti-doping analysis, and even less could it appear in the analysis almost three months after the placement of the vitamin (for more than it had been contaminated).

For honor and so that the family and authorities did not have reproach with the athlete, whom I appreciate, I referred to her father who took me in charge of all responsibility and consequence. I did not think that this gesture would be taken with such fury. [I was] pretending to be the one who has the responsibility that I do not have, the athlete is 31 years old, she did not live with me, she is fully responsible for her actions, I never gave her any substance beyond that opportunity, and it was not prohibited or doping medicine.

I am at full disposal to safeguard my good name and honor in this sport that I love, I have no responsibility whatsoever in the actions of my directed, and I will occur before the courts to disclaim all responsibility.


Quirós has submitted her explanation to the UCI disciplinary court and has requested that the test be annulled or her sentence be reduced. We have contacted Quirós for comment and will update this story hear more.


148 Comments

  • 111 2
 Throwing you coach under the bus is one classy way of dealing with it.
  • 57 0
 Did she throw him under the bus or did he jump on the grenade? Any other analogies?
  • 33 0
 @kcy4130: He took one for the team.
  • 25 0
 @kcy4130: a bird in the hand is worth two in the it was the other guy doping allegation.
  • 8 0
 @kcy4130: he stepped up to the plate.
  • 94 0
 @samfr1000: up to the platelet
  • 40 3
 He ate the yoga pants and then puked them up at an inopportune moment in front of guests during a pre-COVID gathering and embarrassed himself as well as his owner and had to spend the rest of the evening in solitary confinement where he consumed the remnants of an unguarded trash can and developed issues on the opposite end of his digestive tract during the night in the living room which resulted in his owner stepping in it barefoot before coffee.
  • 6 0
 @IamTheDogEzra: She threw him to the wolves!!!!!!
  • 18 0
 @kcy4130: If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.*


*Courtesy if Zapp Brannigan
  • 9 0
 He saved her ass. (after injecting it with epo).
  • 4 1
 Worked for Leo @ Pole . . .
  • 3 0
 @IamTheDogEzra: Good dog, you deserve a bone for that comment
  • 1 0
 @IamTheDogEzra: you a baaad dawg
  • 2 0
 Somebody really screwed the pooch.
  • 3 0
 look at their grin... did they take shrooms too?
  • 6 2
 But even better for everyone involved in the doping is the "water bottle from racer friend who is long-term ill and therefore has bigger problems then a racing ban" story.
  • 4 0
 maybe she just took the wrong bottle....
  • 3 1
 or coach under the coach
  • 75 0
 You don’t take EPO just once. I mean, maybe the coach did inject a single dose, but that’s not how it works. Also, it’s hard to imagine a coach/friend agreeing to inject an athlete with EPO without having regular blood work done. I imagine that a lot more athletes are using EPO than we realize. It’s no longer detectable after 4-5 days and the effects last for months.

That’s nice of him to take the fall for her, however.
  • 17 0
 This sounds more believable.

Also, who are you working for?! (Austin Powers voice)
  • 7 3
 Exactly. EPO benefits are massive when talking about only a small percentage in performance gain during 2-3 hour races. If you’re taking EPO and still that far down the table you have to imagine what everyone else is doing
  • 14 1
 Which makes her story kind of suspect. He injected her in Jan without her knowledge but she tested positive in March. Something does not add up.
  • 4 3
 @tubby1536: how do you inject someone without their knowledge?
  • 6 0
 @rglasser: He meant the contents of the shot, not actually shooting her.
  • 5 3
 @rglasser: it happens... sometimes that’s how how babies get made.
  • 1 0
 Word on the small XC world down here is every single pupil of the "Chueco" Gili ends up either doing EPO or leaving competition...
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: from my experience, many coaches in cycling are similar to coaches in bodybuilding. They coordinate foods, training, and drugs
  • 63 3
 I can't imagine the stress of being a professional cyclist and always having to worry if someone is going to slip you EPO.
  • 113 0
 Looking forward to this challenge on Pinkbike Academy
  • 36 1
 @pmhobson: the next challenge is going to be refusing a water bottle containing illegal supplements when you are really thirsty
  • 9 1
 @pmhobson: Yes, Vodka in the water bottles. 4K climb, lets go!
  • 16 0
 @pmhobson: well Vlad is out, so...
  • 13 0
 @gnarparr: Next challenge will be to choose between limb saving treatment with illegal substances or legally losing a limb. True enduro challenges.
  • 54 1
 This is akin to turning up at the ER with the handle of a tennis racket stuck up your butt claiming to have "fallen on it accidentally"
  • 18 1
 I had a friend who had to go to the ER with a mangled and bloody ring, and explain to the doctors that his injuries were from violent contact with the rear tire of his mountain bike.... not sure they believed him. Actually it was the ER in whistler, so they probably see that ten times a day. He was nicknamed Frodo after that.
  • 10 0
 Million to one shot, Doc.
  • 6 0
 @MtbSince84: The EPO was in a Junior Mint? Very refreshing.
  • 6 0
 @MtbSince84: fusilli Jerry
  • 2 0
 @Thirty3: So many classic Seinfelds... hard to keep 'em straight.
  • 3 0
 @hisroyalgooseness: Can just imagine this being at Wimbledon and described by an enraged John McEnroe.
  • 5 0
 @kcy4130: Imagine how cool it would be if there were a special type of shorts that you could wear UNDER your normal shorts that could.....get this....protect your nether regions from contact with the rear tire, or saddle.
Someone should invent something like that....could make millions.
  • 4 0
 "There I was, standing on the table, naked and lubed like normal, when suddenly I slipped and fell on my tennis racket propped in the corner." Perfectly believable.
  • 1 0
 @Thirty3: Brilliant !! that takes me back
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: 29er problems...
  • 31 3
 trusting someone who isn't a doctor with a medication/supplement injection you didn't get prescribed to you personally is your own fault, good intent or not. just sounds like some sort of excuse.
  • 12 45
flag me2menow (Nov 24, 2020 at 12:38) (Below Threshold)
 it's brazil though...that kind of practice is probably more commonplace
  • 181 8
 @me2menow: Spot on. I recently took the advice of a well-known American non-doctor to inject myself with bleach to stave off a nasty virus. That's how we roll down here.
  • 11 5
 @mi-bike: Lol. Self-medication and over-the-counter drugs are very commonplace in Latin America, including Brazil. I dont care if you have anything negative to say about Trump, I probably agree with you.
  • 5 104
flag OldScratchJohnson (Nov 24, 2020 at 13:16) (Below Threshold)
 @mi-bike: like a vaccine? Brazil is a shit hole country so, maybe stay out of American politics. Also stop cutting down the rainforest too!!
  • 68 25
 @OldScratchJohnson: @OldScratchJohnson: We stop cutting down the forest when you stop drone-bombing innocent civilians, start accepting science as a basis for making policy decisions, and start providing guaranteed health care for your citizens.

Do we have a deal?
  • 17 6
 @mi-bike: @mi-bike: Kinda ironic for you to say that when Bolsonaro is your president.
  • 12 12
 @mi-bike: I know, you take such good care of the favelas and the people who live in them...
  • 14 28
flag Thirty3 (Nov 24, 2020 at 13:41) (Below Threshold)
 @mi-bike: Drone bombing was Barack Hussein Obama's favorite thing to do to civilians.
  • 15 5
 @Thirty3: Absolutely. There's unfortunately no question that the endless wars will continue under Biden. As I read in a prominent US newspaper this morning: "Biden Pick to Lead Spy Agencies Played Key Role in Drone Strike Program under Obama".
  • 12 4
 @mi-bike: yeah, even as a Democrat, I can’t blindly say that Biden will be good for the world. Obama certainly wasn’t. I didn’t vote for Biden for this reason. Assassinating Ghadaffi and leaving the country in mayhem, arming Syrian rebels who became ISIS and further fomenting a Syrian civil war that displaced millions throughout the Middle East (with millions in refugee camps), immense amount of drone strikes with a non judicial killing of a US citizen overseas, etc. it’s extremely troubling that the best we had to offer was the status quo, and that only succeeded because of people’s desire to get rid of Trump.
  • 2 14
flag OldScratchJohnson (Nov 24, 2020 at 20:45) (Below Threshold)
 @mi-bike: worry about your country that full of problems...
  • 14 3
 @OldScratchJohnson: This is out of order. Can we get rid of this guy!?
  • 4 0
 @me2menow: title says Argentina you silly Canadian!
  • 1 0
 @P-Munari: yea either the title changed or I had a mixup. Too late to recall at this point lol
  • 33 2
 On the juice and still only got 28th, bahahaha how gutting!
  • 24 0
 Not really - she was just the only one caught this time.
  • 14 0
 @onemind123: they do say they only catch the dumb ones.
  • 29 0
 Don’t do drugs mmmmkay. Drugs are bad, mmmkay.
  • 20 2
 Well if the UCI banned me for four years and a big fine I would take that money not pay the UCI and buy a mtb and ride for fun
  • 14 0
 Have we ever heard of an athlete being accountable and acknowledging using doping substance? At this point, I believe I would have more respect in an accountable cheater than a liar. Truth becomes a real rare comodity
  • 9 1
 But if you admit to doping you are 100% done as a competitive pro athlete. You are better off holding on to that 2% of doubt. Just look at the Martin Maes situation, his situation seemed very legit and people still call him a drug cheat.
  • 4 0
 Google Jerome Chiotti, MTB XC world champion in 1996 who decided to volunteer up a confession out of the blue 4 years later even though he wasn't under any investigation or adverse test result.
  • 3 0
 @Ginsu2000: kudos to him!
  • 2 0
 Well to be one, you have to cheat first.
  • 14 3
 All the bother of EPO and you still finish 28th!! Don't ban just point and LOL!
  • 15 1
 I came here to say the same haha. Sucks to suck.
  • 4 0
 @parisgore: Tell that to the people who finished after her. Assuming the real 28th finisher was clean, did she suck too, just more admirably?
  • 9 1
 @Rich-Izinia: absolutely not. You finish dead last with a clean system you did your best; no shame there. But if you’re a cheater and still finish in the back; yeah you suck.
  • 3 0
 @parisgore: no shame no fame
  • 4 1
 @parisgore: She was second in that other race she was tested at. And 28th out of thousands in the whole world of XC racing.

Also what would you do with doping? Probably still not qualifing for WC?
  • 3 2
 @JohSch: what would I do with doping? I wouldn’t dope. Cause it would be pretty embarrassing to not qualify for a WC after taking EPO.
  • 7 0
 Guilty until proven stupid? Stupid squared due to the fact it wasn't even a random test. Coach " I told you to not finish in the top 3 you idiot" Rider " I was trying to go slower but all the girls not on your vitamins are so slow it was silly".

This actually makes me very sad as it is unlikely they are alone doing this in XC.
  • 6 0
 Almost all top athletes dope/race the rules. It is one of the worst kept secrets in the world. Thinking otherwise is believing in unicorns.
  • 4 0
 Yep. One of my best friends was a borderline Olympic athlete (middle distance running). Says he would have made it (and possibly made it out of his heat) if he had doped. He knew the circle of elite athletes and maintains every single track finalist in the Olympics is juiced.
  • 8 1
 This is why I follow the EWS. Nothing like this would EVER happen in the EWS! ... Right?
  • 6 0
 Moral of the story: Don't let people give you injections, especially if you don't know what's in them.
  • 12 1
 You must be fun at parties.
  • 2 21
flag Thirty3 (Nov 24, 2020 at 16:47) (Below Threshold)
 Id give her a hot beef injection
  • 8 0
 @Thirty3: Your wife is calling you in from the garage - she made your favorite dinner.....
  • 3 0
 Doping to be number 39 in the world! One of the athletes commenting on the I think Nordic skier caught red handed with a needle in his arm said words to the effect,” I can see doping to get a top three finish but doping to be 40th is just sad”.
  • 2 2
 She was second in that other race she was tested at. And 28th out of thousands in the whole world of XC racing.

Also what would you do with doping? Probably still not qualifing for WC?
  • 6 0
 Dammit Paula, you're such a jerk.
  • 4 0
 She's just the one that got caught, can almost guarantee there are others that are still competing doing it, it is cycling...
  • 6 0
 Electric Pedal Ossist??
  • 1 0
 Whats really sad about all of this, is that at this point we're not even surprised anymore. A top-level cycling athlete doping? Not even really news at this point. Makes you wonder how many of them are doing it without getting caught.
  • 3 0
 I believe there is a no needle policy in the UCI rules. So, even if she thought he was injecting vitamins she was still breaking the rules.
  • 1 0
 He slipped her a Mickey.
I should not try to correlate doping to performance at least not as a way to make an argument if she’s guilty or not ... but a 31 year old architect ranked ~30th in the world is very hard to believe. That’s better than Emily Batty.
Glad she has a career to fall back on.

Why does this testing process take so long?
Every rider should give a sample before the race and dopers excluded before the gun goes off.
  • 4 0
 Classic blame the coach ????????
  • 4 0
 maybe she thought it was experimental COVID vaccine
  • 4 0
 Honest question, can this stuff help with a lacklustre sex life?
  • 5 0
 only if you inject directly into the lacklustre organ
  • 3 0
 So some riders are still doping and without regular checks by UCI, they will get away with it.
  • 2 0
 By some do you mean most?
  • 3 0
 It just got more juicy. Dude is denying her accusation. Who does one believe?
  • 4 1
 Most people take their supplements in tablet form... Just saying.
  • 2 0
 Not really true. Amino and vitamin infusions are extremely common among elite athletes
  • 4 1
 Moare water bottle failure.
  • 1 0
 Maybe I’m stoned but I thought EPO was a good classic rock band. Nope (hits head with a checkerboard Vans) that’s ELO. Either way this whole thing has me confused.
  • 5 3
 Bit of a none story for someone finishing 28th! Clearly EPO didn't work.
  • 21 0
 Or 27 used it better and didn't get caught......
  • 2 0
 all that guilt must have weighed her down. a lot of grammes in that g.
  • 1 0
 @onemind123: Very good point!
  • 1 0
 @onemind123: and the rest
  • 3 1
 She was second in that other race she was tested at. And 28th out of thousands in the whole world of XC racing.

Also what would you do with doping? Probably still not qualifing for WC?
  • 1 2
 @JohSch: Still a none story. No one cares about who comes 2nd let alone 28th no matter if there are 1000s of riders!

When it comes to doping then let them all do it. They do it anyway until they get caught. If they are all doing it then competition is fair. There is no one who competes in Body Building competitions who aren't on steriods and no one complains. Even the 'Natty' category most are juicing. Its the same with Strongman competition. Funny how its taboo in one sport yet accepted in others.
  • 4 2
 EPO and ranked nr. 39? Embarrassing...
  • 1 0
 Lo lamento mucho Laura. El entrenador debe ser castigado por ser mentiroso! Cuídate.
  • 2 0
 Drugs in cycling, noooo I'm so shocked.... Part 64325789
  • 1 0
 Well he clearly didn't take enough if he came in 28th.how much did the winner take??
  • 2 0
 I find this news refreshingly normal. Thanks for sharing.
  • 1 0
 I never thought this could happen in professional cycling :-(
SO SAD
Lance A. / Jan U
  • 2 1
 I think her name is Karen, not Paula....
  • 1 0
 Business as usual for xc/cross/road; men and women.
  • 1 0
 I finally put my finger on it, the coach looks like Fabio Cancellara!
  • 1 1
 Alberto contador got 2 years for epo..
  • 8 0
 Now come on, it wasn’t EPO, it was all those steaks he ate, he said so himself.
  • 1 1
 @ears-in-snow: That was a lie he was 10 minutes behind the field then doped at end of the tour he won by 25 minutes
  • 1 0
 never heard of her
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