As you might have seen earlier today, Jared Graves and Richie Rude confirmed that they both tested positive
for the banned drugs Higenamine and Oxilofrine at an in-competition test in Olargues, France, during the third round of the Enduro World Series.
Richie and Jared's cases are both waiting for a hearing date, and there hasn't been an announcement yet as far as a decision or sanctions go. In the meantime, we reached out to Richie to hear his side of the story.
Did you return an adverse analytical finding from the French EWS race? Richie Rude:
Yes. I was notified in July.
Do you know what substance could have caused the AAF? Richie:
No. I tested positive for two substances that are specified, but at the moment we don't know where it came from. So we're getting things tested to figure that out. There were super low amounts of whatever substances were in the test; it was parts per billion.
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.
Have you ever intentionally taken a banned substance? Richie:
No, and I would never take anything. I see myself as a clean athlete and I've never taken anything to cheat, or nothing to better myself.
Do you know the names of the two substances that showed up? Richie:
Yeah, and they're classified as 'Specified Substances.' It was Higenamine and Oxilofrine.
Was this the first time that you've been tested while competing at an Enduro World Series event? Richie:
Yes, this was my first time being tested at an EWS. I've been tested before in downhill, but not in the EWS.
When was that? Richie:
My last downhill race at World Champs in 2013. We had a test there.
Do you know if there have been tests at other EWS races that you weren't called in for? Richie:
I'm not totally sure, but I've talked to a couple of people and I think there have been tests but I'm not 100-percent on that.
How is an EWS athlete supposed to know what substances are banned? Is this something that the EWS communicates to you, or is it your responsibility to figure that out on your own? Richie:
At the moment, it's in our own hands. With having a UCI license, you kinda have to take it into your own hands and make sure that you're looking at the banned substance list. You know, since we haven't really had testing in the EWS, they haven't made it fully aware for us.
I think more people need to look at the WADA list and make sure that there's nothing in any of those supplements or anything like that.
Is the suspicion that these substances would have come from a supplement? Richie:
That's my first guess.
You're a professional athlete and you're taking supplements that you need to take, but had you taken anything out of the ordinary in the past that you might not have taken otherwise? Richie's lawyer, Matt Kaiser:
We'll need to pass on that one. We have to do our own history and checking of what you did and didn't take, and have everything tested.
Richie says he suspects that supplements may be responsible for the Higenamine and Oxilofrine in his system.
Richie, what's the next step for you? What happens now? Richie:
We're waiting to hear back from the French Anti-Doping Agency, waiting to hear their verdict and we'll put in our story of it and tell them how it was fully unintentional and that it was an accident. So we're waiting to hear back from them; it's kinda like a waiting game, obviously.
A lot of waiting, which has to be an extremely frustrating thing right now. I imagine that you're sitting there waiting for the e-mail or phone call... Richie:
Yeah, exactly. You know, it was essentially an accident, and it's kind of hard to wait and see what they'll say. Hopefully, they'll give us some good news.
Speaking of what's going to happen down the road, you probably don't know if you're going to be able to compete in EWS racing next year quite yet. But if you weren't, and the sanction kept you from racing the EWS, would you consider racing World Cup downhill again? Richie:
I definitely would, but it's hard to know at the moment what the French Anti-Doping has power over. But yeah, if that was an option, I think it'd be kind of fun. But you kind of want to respect the sanction.
What do you think this means for the sport of enduro racing? Richie:
I think, honestly, it's kind of a bummer to have something like this come up. I mean, I think it's good that it's an unintentional thing like this and nothing extreme, but it's a good learning experience for everybody. With the UCI coming in next year, I think they'll hopefully open up people's eyes to what could (come) up in tests and hopefully they'll look more closely at what they're taking or what other riders have.
Richie and Jared are friends, former teammates, and sometimes training partners. Both accept that Higenamine and Oxilofrine were in their systems.
Jared Graves tested positive at the same race; he's your buddy and sometime-training partner... Looking in from the outside, the casual fan might say that it does look suspicious. Richie:
Obviously, it might (look) suspicious but, you know, we are separate racers and I don't think it has too much of a connection. I don't think people should be suspicious of anything.
I know that you can't specify where you think it came from, but the obvious connection that people are going to make is that you're both Ryno Power athletes. What would you say to that? Richie:
Yeah, obviously it doesn't look great for them, but Ryno Power's motto has always been that they have clean substances, and so they shouldn't be brought into this whole situation.
Have you spoken with them at all? Richie:
I actually haven't at all.
Rude is approaching the off-season as he would any other, by training hard and having fun on his bike. The question is: Will the two-time EWS champ be allowed to race?
Moving forward with your sponsors, with Red Bull and Yeti, do you know how your future might like with them for 2019 and beyond? Richie:
Yeah, I've spoken to both of them; Yeti is super positive and they're behind me on this whole thing. When my contract was coming up with Red Bull, they're behind me and always wanting to keep supporting me. I think even if there's a sanction for next year, there are a lot more opportunities for me besides racing.
You know, I think they both know me enough and that I'd never do anything or take a banned substance or anything like that, so they're definitely behind me on this.
Being a professional athlete like yourself, your whole life is dedicated to going as fast as possible and training - doing all the things you need to do to beat all the people - and now you're in this strange limbo place where you might not be able to race in 2019, or at least not the type of racing that you've trained a lot of your life for. So right now, are you just doing what you need to do regardless, or have you changed things up? Richie:
I've been thinking about that recently. It's hard to know what's going to happen, but I love riding and I love training so I've just continued to do what I usually do. Being with my trainer, Todd [Shumlick, PerformX Training], we filled up my whole lineup for 2019 and I'll continue doing that and having fun like I usually do in the off-season.
Anything else that you want to say to the fans and people out there? Richie:
I hope everybody has my back and believes me, and I think it sucks that this is happening and I'm sorry for that. But I think it'll all come out alright and I hope that they respect that these cases are going on.
We're still waiting to hear back from French Anti-doping and we shouldn't jump to any kind of conclusions, and it's hard to read that on Vital and those kinds of rumors going around. I think you should respect us and that we're not doing anything wrong.