The Californian rider penalized by USADA for the usage or possession of 10 banned substances has provided a response to his sanctions.
52-year-old Vahe Aivazian was suspended for 4 years after USADA was sent an anonymous tip-off and has had all of his results stripped back to June 16 2010. While Vahe did accept his sanction from USADA, he claims he would have to have to flown to Norway to contest his case through arbitration, something that was not a possibility for him due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vahe believes that he ingested the banned substances via dietary supplements that he did not realize contained ingredients that could get him banned. He also claims he was never blood or urine tested and that he was assumed to be guilt based on the testimony of others.
The following response provided by Vahe's lawyer is posted in full below:
We have reached out to USADA for further information.
Statement: Vahe Aivazian
In response to the article posted on USADA and Pinkbike my client’s statement is the following;
As the article states; “he elected to sign an acceptance of sanction form the day before the arbitration hearing in his case was to begin.” The information left out is that by US Cycling rules, I had to be in person in Norway for the arbitration. With the current climate of the world Pandemic that was not an option and if I did not show up the guilty determination would stand regardless of signature or not.
The article also states; “The ten substances below, which Aivazian possessed and used and/or attempted to use,” the wording of and/or is utilized in the statement because USADA or US Cycling never provided myself or my lawyer any proof of purchasing these substances or proof of me taking any substances that are outside of my Dr. prescribed medications. I was never blood tested, urine tested or any testing whatsoever. I was assumed guilty and per US Cycling rules assumptions over proof allow for banning of riders. Which intent is very import for every rider to understand that US Cycling when racing under their rules you are admitting guilt of using substances that they prohibit from the moment you sign-up. All they need is just one person to accuse you of any action of usage of substances that fall into these guidelines as stated on the USADA Website;
“If athletes choose to use supplements despite these known risks, USADA has always recommended that athletes use only dietary supplements that have been certified by a third-party program that tests for substances prohibited in sport.
USADA currently recognizes NSF Certified for Sport® as the program best suited for athletes to reduce the risk from supplements.”
So, cyclist going to a health food store or website and searching product that do not meet the above statement are guilty under the regulations of USADA and US Cycling. From my experience of over 20 years of racing can say most of us don’t know what dietary supplements contain and are sold over the counter at any local store or website.
At the end of the day I love mountain bikes and will continue with my passion of bikes and the community it has created for my life. I immigrated to the US 40 years ago, obtained my US citizenship, own my own business, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this sport and support of all the great people that provide local racers the events listed in the article. Without those people none of this exist and USADA and US Cycling have determined with no proof to eradicate a 52 year amateur racer that has done nothing but pour support and money into the local scene to ensure young riders have a place to race. Today USADA and US Cycling showed the world they do not support the local race organizers and frankly, should check every amateur's dietary supplement and do to them what they have done to me. I know that this would be the end of racing at all ages.