May 13th was the final day of racing at the third round of the 2018 Enduro World Series in Olargues, France. It also happened to be Mother's Day, as well as the day that full-scale anti-doping testing took place — a rarity on the EWS circuit until now. Nine riders were called into the French Anti-Doping Agency's (AFLD) control, and we can now confirm that at least two of them returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) from the tests in Olargues.
Two-time champ Richie Rude and one-time champ Jared Graves have both confirmed to Pinkbike that they tested positive for Higenamine (banned in and out of competition) and Oxilofrine (banned in-competition) at the third round of the series in France. They say that their failed tests were due to accidental ingestion.
The AFLD has not yet issued their findings publicly. Below is everything we can confirm so far.
Richie won the EWS event in Olargues, France, but would later test positive for Higenamine and Oxilofrine at the post-race French Anti-Doping control.
9 male EWS racers were tested in Olargues, France
Elgan Delteral, Judicial Director at the FCC (Fédération Française de Cyclisme), told Pinkbike that tests were administered by the French Anti Doping Agency (AFLD) on May 13th, the final day of competition in Olargues. While he wouldn't name the individuals tested, Delteral did say that nine were called into doping control post-race. A spokesperson for the AFLD also declined to name those tested, but they did say this: ''We can confirm that riders were tested by AFLD at this competition. This is the only information AFLD can share.
On the women's front, Enduro World Series champion Cecile Ravanel told us that she was not tested. Actually, multiple sources say that no women were — for doping control, an officer must be present during sample collection, and word is that no female officer was available.
Other pro men wait for their turn at the AFLD's doping control station on May 13th.
So, who all got tested? Our own Dave Trumpore was on-site and photographed four racers awaiting their turn: Adrien Daily is seen sitting on the floor closest to the camera, and José Borges is on the bench next to him. Greg Callaghan is in the middle, and then there's Rude on the end of the bench, still wearing the gear that he won the race in. Those four told Pinkbike that they were tested, along with Graves and Martin Maes. Callaghan, Dailly, Borges, and Maes all confirmed that they were not notified of any adverse analytical findings from that test.
With two riders returning AAFs and four more confirming their tests, that leaves three other riders who have yet to confirm they were tested and, more importantly, confirm that they didn't fail.
The drug testing process takes time
Here are the basics of how it goes down. Once the AFLD's WADA-accredited laboratory has tested the samples and an adverse analytical finding (AAF) is returned, the athlete must be notified according to code 3.4.3 in the WADA's own guidelines. The athlete can also request an analysis of the B sample (code 7.3) to happen within seven days of the A sample's examination. Both Rude and Graves declined the right to have their B sample tested, opting to accept the results of the initial test instead.
If there is a "non-negative" test result, the AFLD (in this case) will ask the athlete to deliver a satisfactory explanation. If the athlete can't deliver adequate justification, they'll be provisionally suspended. Rude and Graves' positive tests were for specified substances, which apparently allowed them to avoid provisional suspension through the remained of the 2018 Enduro World Series season.
It's at this point that sanctions will be recommended by WADA, and code 10.13 in the guidelines says that ''A mandatory part of each sanction shall include automatic publication...
'' And that ''The following information shall be made public by the [Results Management Agency] within 20 days from the decision date: Athlete or other person’s name; sport; anti-doping rule violated and the prohibited substance or prohibited method involved, if applicable; the consequences (sanction).
What all that means is that if a racer has been found guilty, the public will eventually know the facts behind the case. This is noteworthy because another racer got popped at a Megavalanche race years ago
, long before the EWS was a thing, but his name was never made public. If that sounds like he escaped trial-by-public-opinion, it's because he did exactly that. The rules were changed in response to that case by the revised WADA code in 2015, and now names can only be withheld in "exceptional" circumstances.
Obviously, with Rude and Graves confirming their results before the AFLD and WADA make their announcements, this doesn't apply to them. But, it may apply if anyone else did in fact test positive in Olargues.
Is a supplement to blame?
We don't know yet, but if Jared and Richie do end up citing a supplement as the cause of the Higenamine and Oxilofrine in their systems, you aren't going to need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that both are sponsored by Ryno Power, a sports-centric supplement company that's widely known in the moto world. Ryno Power is also an advertiser with Pinkbike.
We reached out to Ryno Power’s owner and president, Ryan McCarthy, who said unequivocally that neither Higenamine or Oxilofrine are found in their products. ''Not only have we never even used any products like that before, we have our stuff strictly tested, so it's impossible for any ingredient to get in that's not already on the ingredients list,
'' he told Pinkbike.
Regardless of the riders' intent, the WADA guidelines are clear that they operate under a principle of ‘strict liability,’ which means that athletes are responsible for what goes into their bodies, regardless of intent or knowing use.
Whether the riders intentionally ingested the substances or not (either through negligence or tainted supplements), WADA's stance is that they're responsible for what they've ingested.
Testing does not mean guilty
There's no way that the news isn't going to set off a tidal wave of opinion, much of it understandably skeptical. Doping has been a massive problem in other disciplines of cycling. But this relatively tiny niche of mountain biking was supposed to be different; it's supposed to be about ''the spirit of enduro.''
Racers being investigated doesn't automatically add up to guilt, and an adverse analytical finding doesn't necessarily equal willful cheating or intent, of course.
Every single World Cup race includes anti-doping controls for both cross-country and downhill athletes, but testing on the EWS circuit might seem a bit more out of the norm because, well, it is. From when the EWS was formed until the end of the 2018 season, they've looked to the host nation's governing body to carry out the tests.
The UCI's role is limited
It was announced earlier this year that the Enduro World Series would begin working with the Union Cycliste Internationale
for 2019 and beyond, with the UCI's ability to facilitate drug testing reportedly as one of the catalysts for that cooperation. That said, they aren't involved in administering this particular test or managing its results.
''That means that round 3 of the 2018 Enduro World Series held on 12–13 May 2018 in Montagnes du Caroux, France, being not registered on the 2018 UCI MTB calendar, the UCI was not testing authority at this event,
'' UCI Press Officer Louis Chenaille told Pinkbike when we asked about their role in the events. ''As of today, no case related to this event has been referred to the UCI for conducting results management. Therefore, the UCI is not in a position to comment on this information.
However, the UCI could be a factor if they prevent any sanctioned riders from competing in UCI events in the future.
The Enduro World Series' involvement is limited as well, for now
The Enduro World Series didn't administer this test and isn't responsible for managing the results. They do have their own anti-doping policy, found on page 18 of the previous year's rulebook, that states: ''The Enduro World Series organizers and EMBA will respect and assist any National Cycling Federation operating anti-doping controls at Enduro World Series events.'' In this case the federation is the FFC and AFLD because the race was in France.
While the EWS might be largely hands-off and waiting for the news like the rest of us, they're also a big part of why this is all going down given that Chris Ball, Founder and Managing Director of the Enduro World Series, requests that the national federations carry out tests at every EWS race.
Ball commented that ''As is standard practice in situations like this, although we as EWS specifically asked for anti-doping tests to be carried out in France by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD), we are not included in the details and discussions about any findings or open cases that follow thereafter."
The EWS will, however, have to make decisions about sanctions for the riders who failed the test in Olargues. The EWS refers to WADA for their policies on doping, just like many other professional sports do, but their stance has always more black and white with a "zero tolerance" policy. The 2018 EWS rulebook says that ''... any cyclist, regardless of cycling discipline, who has previously been found guilty by any court or regulatory body of any use of or involvement with banned, performance-enhancing drugs will not be entitled to compete or take part in any Enduro World Series event.
What's next for Richie and Jared?
At this point, it's a waiting game for the AFLD to release their findings. This will be the first official announcement, and it will name the substances found in Graves and Rude's systems and include sanction recommendations. Remember the three tested racers who have yet to be identified? If any of them had an adverse analytical finding as well, we'll get confirmation in the same press release.
There will likely be WADA sanctions for Jared and Richie, and then the EWS will make their own ruling.
For the WADA sanctions we may get an idea of what Richie and Jared might be facing by looking at past cases. When it comes to Oxilofrine, Flávia Oliveira got dinged with a two-year suspension for Methylsynephrine (a chemical equivalent of Oxilofrine) but - and this is very important - it was trimmed down to eighteen months after she was able to prove that the substance was both unknowingly consumed and not on the product's ingredient list.
Higenamine has a similar, albeit shorter, history in sports, with the most notable case being when a French soccer player was briefly banned by UEFA. That sentence was overturned, yet again, when he argued that there ''was an absence of significant negligence,'' and pointed out the rulebook's rather vague wording at the time.
There are a lot of factors to the sanctions—the presence of two substances, whether or not the tribunal accepts Richie and Jared's explanations, and whether the EWS enforces additional sanctions on top of what WADA and the AFLD announce.
With Graves currently kicking the shit out of cancer
, the Australian wouldn't be competing in 2019 anyway. ''I wouldn't be racing anyway because I've got another six months of high-dose chemo coming up,
'' he told us when we interviewed him about the failed test. ''So that won't end until the middle of the year, and then it can take months before you're back to normal energy levels.
Richie, on the other hand, would no doubt be racing if there isn't an enforced timeout of some sort. However, one possible outcome could be that his EWS sanction is longer than the AFLD/WADA sanction. If that's the case, will we see him racing World Cup downhill instead?
We reached out to Jared and Richie's major sponsors for statements. Some have not yet responded.Interview: Jared Graves
Interview: Richie Rude