David George, a South African cyclist and former teammate of Lance Armstrong, admitted on Tuesday to using the blood-boosting drug Erythropoietin (EPO) after failing a doping test on Aug. 29.
”His biological passport indicated suspicious activity and that triggered a targeted test for EPO,” SAIDS chief executive Khalid Galant said in announcing the positive test Tuesday. ”A subsequent urine test came back positive for the banned EPO drug.”
George is now facing a two-year ban from Cycling of South Africa, but is provisionally suspended until a final decision is reached.
He cycled with U.S. Postal Service team in 1999 and 2000, alongside recently banned Armstrong. George said he realizes that he will face a ban as well and is prepared for what the CSA decides.
”I know the result will ultimately be the same. This decision will be communicated to Cycling South Africa (CSA) and Drug-Free Sport shortly and according to protocol,” George said in a statement: ”I fully understand the consequences of my admission and will bear the results of this.”
In October, Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by the International Cycling Union for his use of steroids, EPO and blood transfusions. Multiple teammates testified against Armstrong in the report issued by the U.S. Anti-doping Agency.
While George waits to hear from the CSA, he has already started to lose sponsors despite apologizing. Nedbank has withdrawn its sponsorship from his current 360Life team.
”Nedbank has a zero tolerance towards the use of any banned substances or performance enhancing drugs and does not condone or support such use in any sport,” the South African bank said.
This is one of George’s lowest moments as a cyclist after having a successful career. He won the silver medal in the road race at 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and bronze in the time trials in the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998. George also represented South Africa at the 1996 and 200 Olympics.
”Cycling, as you know, has been a confusing space, and although it has given me incredible moments it has also given me experiences that no person or young athlete should have to go through,” George said.
Now he must figure out how to get over this mountain in his life.