Cyclist Sharp slapped with two-year doping ban
Former Bermuda policeman Damien Sharp has been banned from competitive cycling for two years after testing positive for the dangerous blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO).
Sharp, who has since left Bermuda to return to the UK, waived his right to a hearing, admitting his use of EPO and accepted his ban that runs until August 17, 2013.
The Englishman’s markedly improved performances are known to have raised a collective eyebrow in the local cycling community, with Sharpe becoming a regular top three finisher during the recent season.
In a statement yesterday, the Bermuda Bicycle Association (BBA) said they were shocked a local competitor would go to such “illegal and immoral” lengths to gain an advantage over an opponent.
“As with many sporting bodies, the BBA’s members are subject to random testing and during one of these tests it was confirmed that an athlete was in violation of the anti-doping regulations,” read the statement.
“Doping at any level of sport is cheating and this was a clear instance of an individual attempting to gain an competitive edge by cheating.
“It is a shock to the BBA and a disservice to the sport of cycling that a recreational athlete should choose to resort to such illegal and immoral methods in order to gain advantage in local races.
“Though the athlete has since left Bermuda, all relevant cycling governing bodies have been informed of the violation and will enforce the ban as they see fit.”
Bermuda Sports Anti Doping Authority (BADSA) are obligated to publicly name any sportsman caught taking a performance enhancing drug by the World Anti Doping Authority.
Cathy Belvedere, executive director of BADSA, said EPO was a high risk substance which could have dangerous effects on an amateur athlete.
“It is very disappointing when we find that an athlete has cheated,” she said. “However, it is even more disconcerting when we find out that the substance is as dangerous and sophisticated as EPO. This high risk substance with dangerous affects on the human body was being used by an athlete competing in a mid level local competition.”
EPO is unable to be bought in Bermuda with Sharp believed to have purchased the drug illegally in the US, rousing the suspicion of the US anti-doping agency, who in turn informed BADSA.
Belvedere added: “We can confirm that the test was conducted in cooperation with UK Anti Doping and USADA, the US anti-doping agency. A clear demonstration that anti-doping organisations worldwide, can and do work together. Increasingly, globally, dopers have nowhere to hide.”
“This case highlights the importance of cooperation between National Anti Doping Organisations and how information sharing can be used to successfully identify and ultimately bring sanctions to doping athletes.
“There will be efforts in the very near future to establish protocols and procedures with our local interdiction agencies to ensure that our collection of information and the ability to share is reciprocal globally.”
The use of EPO, a hormone produced naturally but supplemented illegally, is common in endurance sports like cycling. It’s often referred to as blood doping because it helps increase red blood cell production, which in turn allows the body to get more oxygen to its muscles resulting in better performance.
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