There have been rumours on social media for a few weeks, but you might only have noticed them if you speak French – and how many of us got beyond ‘Le chat est dans l’arbre’ to ‘Ça biche! Ça va me faire plus vite!’.
The gist of the rumours has been that doping tests in the French round of the Enduro World Series (EWS) this year have resulted in an adverse finding, and this statement from the EWS organisers confirms that ‘something’ is happening, and it appears that there’s more than one sample being given further scrutiny:
“We are aware of an ongoing inquiry by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD), but have yet to receive any formal notification of the process. Until that inquiry is completed and we are notified of the outcome we are unable to comment. The EWS asked for these tests to be carried out and now we must respect the formal AFLD process in place and will base any further action on the outcome of that process, not rumour or speculation. If the riders in question are found to be in violation of the rules, appropriate sanctions will be applied by the Enduro World Series alongside any measures taken by AFLD.” – Chris Ball, EWS
Of course, let the internet loose on anything and suddenly there’s a grassy knoll, a cover up by the authorities, tinfoil hats and contrails. Since our experience of the EWS organisers is that they’re clued up and switched on, we thought we’d check out whether there were any facts that might keep the lizard people at bay, although with the AFLD process ongoing they’re not able to say anything much more at this point.
What we did learn, however, is that this is not the first time there has been doping controls at an EWS race. Different national cycling federations have different approaches to the EWS and enduro – some countries recognise the events as fully sanctioned races, others don’t. Where the race is officially sanctioned by the national body – as it was in France – then doping controls are offered to the EWS, and have been taken up on a number of occasions previously. As far as we’re able to confirm, no previous round of doping tests have revealed any instances of doping.
Further fuel to the conspiracy theorists has come from the fact that the EWS website has not been working properly over the last couple of days – we’re assured that’s because a planned switch over to a new site didn’t quite go as planned, and that the team has been working through the night to get the site up and running again ready for taking entries for next year’s season in just a few week’s time.
No doubt the speculation and trial by internet will continue, but let’s not forget that the EWS rules state that someone caught doping won’t get to race an EWS again. With the potential for careers to be at stake, let’s all calm down and carry on riding bikes while the AFLD does its thing.
What do the rules say exactly?
Kate Ball, Communications officer for the EWS sent us this excerpt from the official rules (they are due an update in January to reflect the new partnership with the UCI)
15: Anti-Doping Policy
At any National Federation sanctioned event on any EWS calendar, Anti-Doping tests may be carried out at any time. All riders entered into the event must comply with local Anti-Doping regulation procedures if asked to do so. Failure to do so will result in disqualification from that event and further penalisation as deemed appropriate by the EWS Board.
The Enduro World Series organisers and EWS will respect and assist any National Cycling Federation operating anti-doping controls at Enduro World Series events.
Any competitor entering an EWS event must follow any anti-doping procedure that may be asked of them by an Enduro World Series organiser.
With the interests of keeping enduro mountain biking clean from the start and to avoid the spirit and reputation of enduro mountain bike racing from being brought into disrepute, 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.
Any cyclist prevented from competing or taking part in any Enduro World Series event by virtue of the foregoing paragraph may appeal to the Board of EWS for exemption from that rule and in exceptional circumstances the Board of EWS may at its absolute discretion grant such an exemption. However, in the interests of transparency within the sport of enduro mountain bike racing, the Board of EWS reserve the right to maintain a zero tolerance approach to drug taking in cycling and will communicate any appeal decision publicly.