The Catford CC Equipe/Banks team have issued a statement in the wake of their former rider Gabriel Evans receiving a suspension from competition for taking banned blood booster EPO. The statement sheds some light on the circumstances surrounding the discovery that Evans was using banned substances.
Nineteen-year-old Evans has been handed a three-and-a-half year ban by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) for admitting to using EPO. He was caught with the drug by a team-mate's father in August 2015 while at a Catford CC Equipe/Banks training camp in France.
Prior to the 2015 season, Evans had ridden with the London Dynamo cycling club. He had been picked up by the Catford CC Equipe/Banks team after winning the 2014 British national junior 25-mile time trial title.
"Early in 2015 the team had various training camps, which our trainers attended and our ‘zero tolerance’ position on the use of performance enhancing drugs was made very clear," said the statement sent to Cycling Weekly by the team on Friday. "It was explained that any infringement would be dealt with swiftly, openly and without compromise.
"During the early season Gabriel had some good results in National Competition. In August he was invited to join another member of the team to train in France, as part of the their preparation for the Junior Tour of Wales, we were happy for him to go.
"During this trip it was discovered that Gabriel had brought an unknown substance with him and was suspected to be injecting himself with it. He was confronted by the parent of the other rider and Gabriel confessed to using testosterone - an anabolic steroid, with the intention of improving his performance. At this stage Gabriel did not confess the substance was EPO and this did not come to light until UKAD became involved."
Catford CC Equipe/Banks spoke to Evans to confirm his use of banned substances, and he was subsequently excluded from the squad. His parents were informed, and then the information was passed on to British Cycling.
"As a matter of due care we have for all of our riders we also contacted Gabriel's parents immediately to make them aware of the situation and the severity of what the possible consequences to his confession to himself might involve," said Catford CC Equipe/Banks.
"We contacted the British Cycling Compliance team in Manchester at the first available opportunity (within 24hrs) to explain the situation and they in turn handed the case to the UK Anti-Doping agency."
As part of the UKAD investigation into Evans, riders and team staff from Catford CC Equipe/Banks were interviewed. While the investigation was being carried out, UKAD requested that the team did not issue a statement to prevent any released information jeopardising the investigation – the team says that this also meant that they couldn't inform London Dynamo that Evans was being investigated.
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"Gabriel’s situation was further exasperated when, three weeks later and despite knowing he was under investigation for a doping offence, Gabriel chose to participate in the National Junior 10 Mile Time-Trial, riding for his new club London Dynamo.
"When it became clear that Gabriel was going to ride the event we rang the organiser to advise him that it would be unwise to accept Gabriel's entry, but he quite rightly pointed out that Gabriel at that time was a London Dynamo rider and not under any suspension."
Catford CC Equipe/Banks underlined their commitment to clean riding in the statement, saying "We are very disturbed by Gabriel’s behaviour, but are confident he was acting in isolation. All the other team riders in 2015/16 are completely drug free and the club and team will not deviate from making sure that we continue to adhere to our ‘zero-tolerance’ policy and treat any deviation similarly seriously."
London Dynamo had earlier released a statement clarifying their relationship with Evans.
Evans had a six-month reduction to the recommended four-year ban after UKAD took into account the circumstances surrounding him taking EPO.
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