I suppose, after random speculation over a number of athletes during the last few years, that it was only a matter of time before someone really did get busted. It is a sad day for the ITU triathlon world with the news that an Austrian triathlete and Olympic hopeful has tested positive (in her A sample) for EPO. According to drug testing protocol her B sample will still be tested and must confirm her A sample result.
Tri 24/7 Article
As an athlete, who raced against her in Ishigaki where she finished 10th, I am very disheartened by this news. It is not only a blow to our sport and to the way that the world will now look on our sport and all of the athletes in it, but it is also a personal blow. She rode by me, on her way from the back of the field up to the front pack, and she came by me with such speed that I did not even have a chance to get on her wheel. When that happens you can't help thinking "wow, I need to train harder" which does nothing for your mental state in the race. It is also really frustrating to me to know that she has cheated her way to top 20 positions and in doing so cheated all of us out of points, both Olympic and ITU, that we all need for qualifications and race entries. Not to mention the poor girl who finished 16th in Ishigaki and was cheated out of her prize money.
But, my frustration is perhaps not quite as great as that of other athletes. One of my training partners was actually a victim of that crash that occurred in New Plymouth. As a result, she was unable to swim for a number of days and went into the US Olympic Trials race still recovering and far less prepared then she otherwise could have been. That isn't to say that she would have made the team, but you just don't know, and her chance to do so was taken from her. You can't imagine the anger that she has now knowing that she was not only crashed out in what may have been an intentional attack, but that the person who robbed her of her perfect Olympic Trials experience is a cheater.
I really hope that the ITU takes a strong stand on this and that if her B sample tests positive she will suffer long lasting consequences. There needs to be a no tolerance policy. It is just not fair to those of us who are working day in and day out, sacrificing everything to try to become great without illegal assistance. The statement needs to be made that this is not okay, completely unacceptable and that there are no second chances. I really don't know if a 3 year ban is even enough.