A 19-year-old British cyclist has been given a three year and six month suspension from competition after an anti-doping rule violation.
Gabriel Evans was handed the ban by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after admitting to using banned blood booster EPO. Evans won the junior national 10-mile time trial title in 2015.
UKAD opened an investigation into Evans in August 2015 after the organisation was given evidence and information that he was involved in taking EPO. A team-mate’s father has spotted a vial of EPO in Evans’s possession during a Catford CC Equipe/Banks team training camp in France, and had notified UKAD. Evans was 18 at the time.
Evans subsequently admitted during the investigation to taking EPO, and posted an apology and explanation on a British time trial internet forum. His prompt admission and circumstances surrounding his drug use led to a four-year suspension being shortened to three and a half years by UKAD.
“Here is a young man at the start of his sporting career whose decision to intentionally cheat has significantly impacted that career before it has really begun,” said UKAD’s chief executive Nicole Sapstead.
“Evans clearly acted intentionally when he decided to purchase and use EPO. However, doping is not a straightforward decision and every person’s motivations are different. Some do it for money, some do it to win. Some do it because they are curious and have seen others doing it.
“It is therefore absolutely correct that every case is treated individually, and in this case that the sanction was reduced by six months to reflect that, as a young man of 18 at the time he committed the violations, Evans’ decision-making skills were impacted by his relative immaturity.”
Evans told Cycling Weekly in December 2015 that ‘curiosity’ had led him into trying EPO after he watched a BBC Panorama television documentary on doping in athletics. The loss of the previous year’s junior national 25-mile time trial title had also played a part in his decision.
“I got beaten by a lot, and when you get beaten by a lot you start questioning things,” Evans told CW in December. “You question other people. I’m not trying to justify it, but when there is that much media exposure, about EPO, it is easy to be tempted. A big factor was losing that title.”
“All I can affect moving forward is how I portray myself, I want to come across as a David Millar and not a Lance Armstrong. I just have to figure out a way of dealing with that as best I can.”
Sapstead thanked the person who had spotted Evans’s EPO vial, saying: “I thank the person who came forward with information and evidence of doping. By doing so, they have called out wrong-doing and safeguarded the welfare of a young athlete.
“Support staff, coaches and parents must all help their athletes to make informed decisions to maximise performance in the right way. They also have a duty of care to protect athletes, and their sport, by talking to us in confidence if they know of someone contravening the anti-doping rules and the spirit of sport.”
Evans’s suspension runs from October 16 2015 to April 15 2019.