US amateur rider handed four-year doping ban after winning cat three race

The 49-year-old was tested after his win in the Arizona State Championships this summer

Doping control
(Image credit: Getty)

An amateur rider in the US has been handed a four-year doping ban after winning a third category race at the Arizona State Championships. 

Matt McWhirter, 49, took victory in the men’s Cat three event at Bike the Bluff, in the city of Show Low, Arizona in June. 

Following his victory from a two-up sprint in the 93km (58-mile) race on June 19, McWhirter was tested by the United States Anti-Doping Agency as part of the RaceClear Program, which aims to deter doping in cycling from amateur to elite level. 

McWhirter tested positive for testosterone or its precursors, and has now been banned from competition for four years by USADA.

He has been stripped of all results from June 19, 2021 and will have to forfeit any medals, points or prizes from that date. 

McWhirter was tested after he won the Bike the Bluff Arizona State Championships in June, where he claimed victory in the six-rider race after two hours and 18 minutes of racing. 

A statement from USADA, released on September 30, said: “McWhirter, 49, who placed first in the Men’s Cat 3 at Bike the Bluff on June 19, 2021, tested positive for an anabolic agent as the result of an in-competition drug test at that event.”

“Anabolic agents like testosterone have powerful performance-enhancing capabilities and can give an athlete an unfair advantage over fellow competitors."

McWhirter’s ban started on August 4, 2021, the date he was provisionally suspended.

>>> Judge says standard of driving has deteriorated in recent years as he jails drug driver for killing cyclist

The 2021 Bike the Bluff hit national headlines in the US when a driver ploughed into a group of cyclists participating in the 55-plus Masters race on Saturday, June 19.
Police then shot the driver, who has since recovered and has been charged with nine counts of aggravated assault. He has pleaded not guilty. 

A month after the incident one of the riders, 58-year-old Jeremy Barrett from Tuscon, died from his injuries.   

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.