Two more riders kicked out of ABSA Cape Epic due to doping.


Two South African mountain bikers are out of the Absa Cape Epic after failing anti-doping tests. One of the riders has been provisionally suspended by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) and in the meantime is not eligible to take part in any races sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) - including the Cape Epic. His case is currently being reviewed by SAIDS.

SAIDS confirmed this week that the second rider was given a three-month suspension for what Cycling South Africa described last year as an "adverse analytical finding in an in-competition test" in May, 2013.

SAIDS has not yet released the names of the riders, but neither of them are professionals.

Last year the Cape Epic became the first race in world cycling to apply a "zero tolerance" approach to doping by imposing a life ban on any rider found guilty of illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs. The ban applies to riders who have been sanctioned for an offence taking place after January 1, 2013.

Both riders have been notified by the Cape Epic that they will not be allowed to take up their 2014 Cape Epic entries.

"I don't care whether a rider has been banned for three months or three years, if you cheat then we don't have time for you - even if you are not earning a living from cycling, as is the case with these riders," said Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak. "This is a new era in cycling, things are changing and I don't want to entertain anybody who still feels the need to dope."

When the Epic's "zero tolerance" approach was announced in December 2012, Vermaak explained that: "We've chosen not to apply this retrospectively because we believe that would be naive. Cycling has a dark past. Many riders from this previous era have rediscovered the joy of cycling as mountain bikers and participate in the Absa Cape Epic as their expression of riding clean.

"Previous offenders, who have served their suspension term, may ride future Absa Cape Epics. We want to be part of the new era of cleaner cycling, and therefore only future offenders will receive the lifetime bans," he said at the time.

Besides the Epic's zero tolerance initiative, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has launched an ambitious independent commission to investigate cycling's doping past. This will include allegations of mismanagement of anti-doping cases by the governing body, the UCI.

The commission was a key element in the manifesto of Brian Cookson, the former British Cycling head who was elected UCI president in late September. Within hours of taking office Cookson had sent investigators to the UCI's Swiss offices to secure computers and documents for the commission.

SAIDS and local cycling authorities have in recent years developed "biological passports" for cyclists, which screen blood and urine tests over a period of time to check for unusual activity. This has widely been hailed as an effective way of curbing the use of drugs in sport.