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Brandon Stewart banned from Epic on doping charges


In response to media queries about South African professional cyclist Brandon Stewart being found guilty of doping, the Absa Cape Epic has confirmed that he is now banned for life from competing in the event.

The Absa Cape Epic has a “zero tolerance” approach to doping: last year it became the first race in world cycling to issue a lifetime ban to any rider found guilty of illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) announced on the 22nd of August that Stewart has been banned from competing in any sanctioned sporting event for two years after testing positive for testosterone. This follows a hearing in Durban last month.

Stewart will, however, not be able to take part again in the Absa Cape Epic, an event which he has completed 10 times. Stewart won the Absa African special jersey - for the top African team to finish - in both 2007 and 2012, and finished in the top five in 2005. 

Stewart is the highest profile rider to be given the lifetime ban by the Absa Cape Epic to date. Italian mountain biker Riccardo Chiarini, who finished fourth overall in the 2014 Absa Cape Epic, tested positive in May this year for unusually high levels of EPO, but his case has yet to be finalised.

The Absa Cape Epic ban applies to anybody found guilty of an offence committed after January 1, 2013.

Absa Cape Epic spokesperson Chris Whitfield said: “The lifetime ban will now apply to Brandon Stewart. It is very disappointing to have a senior South African professional being found guilty of doping when cycling is doing so much to address this sort of negative publicity.”

Besides the Epic’s zero tolerance initiative, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has launched an independent commission to investigate cycling’s doping past.

The commission was a key element in the manifesto of Brian Cookson, who was elected UCI president last year.  Within hours of taking office Cookson had sent investigators to the UCI’s Swiss offices to secure computers and documents for the commission.

SAIDS and local cycling authorities have in recent years developed “biological passports” for cyclists, which screen blood and urine tests over a period of time to check for unusual activity. This has widely been hailed as an effective way of curbing the use of drugs in sport.

The Cape Epic’s policy:

The Absa Cape Epic conforms to the World Anti-Doping Code as laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and works with the UCI and the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) to ensure the Code is properly implemented at the race and amongst cyclists in South Africa. Stringent and comprehensive doping control is conduct-ed at the race by the UCI and SAIDS.

Any athlete (professional or amateur) sanctioned by their federation or national anti-doping authority (NADA) for use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) after 1 January 2013, whether at another event or out of competition, will be banned for life from participating in the Absa Cape Epic. Not only will the person not be allowed to participate (as an amateur rider or UCI- licensed elite), but the individual will also be banned from being involved on any level including as a team manager.

As is stipulated in the race rules, the organisers reserve the right to test all participants and therefore, per the WADA Code, the onus is on the athlete to check that any substances or methods used do not appear on WADA's current Listof Prohibited Substances and Methods.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport’s statement: 

Cape Town, 22 August 2014 – The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) announced today that Mountain Biker, Brandon Stewart, has received a ban of 2 years for testing positive for the banned steroid, Testosterone. The sanctioned imposed on him is effective from 27 March 2014.

Stewart tested positive for the banned substance on 7 July 2013 during an out-of-competition test.  The athlete had applied for an exemption to use Testosterone.  The exemption, known as a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), was denied by the SAIDS TUE Commission. 

Khalid Galant, SAIDS CEO, explained that subsequently Stewart appealed against his Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) denial to the SAIDS Appeal Board.  The appeal was not successful.  The Appeal Board supported the TUE Commission’s decision that a compelling medical condition did not exist to warrant the use of the banned steroid, testosterone.

Galant explains further: “Stewart was afforded due process as outlined by our anti-doping code with respect to being presented an opportunity to file an appeal against a TUE denial before he was charged with a doping offence.”



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