New Zealand road champion Olivia Ray has been suspended by USADA for two-and-a-half years, after admitting multiple doping violations.
The 24-year-old, who was based in the USA riding for Human Powered Health, admitted the use of clenbuterol, human growth hormone and oxandrolone, as well as possession of clenbuterol and oxandrolone.
The transgressions came to light after USADA was given information by a whistleblower last December.
“When confronted with the evidence, Ray fully cooperated, despite pressure for her not to do so," USADA said in a statement, "and admitted she was provided prohibited substances by another athlete, Jackson “Huntley” Nash."
Ray had reportedly been in a relationship with US rider Nash, who was also sanctioned by USADA; he was given a lifetime ban last month after an investigation revealed evidence of seven separate doping violations.
In an interview with the New Zealand Herald in July, when the USADA investigation was still in train, Ray conceded: "I did what I did, and can't change it now. Being honest in the end was what I should have done from day one. No going back, but big life lessons learned."
Ray's ban, which was lessened by six months after she provided evidence about Nash, began on 10 March this year. She has also had all her results nullified since 17 May 2021 — the date that she first talked of using human growth hormone with Nash, according to the USADA statement — and will have to surrender all points, medals and prizes.
"That period includes her win at the Grant Park Criterium," said the statement, "where she claimed the richest single-day prize purse, $21,000, in North America for pro women at the time — and her New Zealand Championships road race victory."
“This case demonstrates the power of investigations in the fight to protect sport and athletes’ rights,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said. “As always, we will thoroughly investigate and act on evidence of doping violations, and greatly appreciate the assistance of those who come forward on behalf of clean sport.”
Cycling New Zealand said in a statement that it supported USADA's sanctions against the Kiwi, adding: "While reiterating its strict stance that doping has no place in the sport, Cycling New Zealand will continue to reach out to Ray to provide support during this challenging time for the rider."
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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields.
Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.
A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now in the past, although that doesn't stop him banging on tirelessly about "that one time" he nearly rode a 20-minute '10', and planning the big comeback that everyone knows will never actually happen.
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