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  • Posted Sep 27, 2012

I have been racing bikes in Iowa since 1994, and during that time I have never suspected a fellow Iowa racer of doping, or been told by someone that an Iowa racer is doping. Maybe I am just “out of the loop,” or maybe Iowa has a clean racing culture?


Now, that is not to say the Iowa race scene has not had a brush with doping. In 2010 a racer from Minnesota came to Iowa and proceeded to ride away from very strong, very advanced, and mostly younger riders at the hilly State Fair Criterium. There were whispers (well, actually not whispers…) among the crowd watching that this rider was doping. more info


And that same year (2010), Iowa native-son and pro-racer Tom “Thor” Zirbel was given a 2-year ban for what he said might have been a tainted supplement or food (or that’s what I understand, he wasn’t sure of the source). He was racing pro at that time, but has come back to Iowa to race the Clear Lake race weekend at least a couple times in recent years.


Zirbel was possibly open with USADA about what may have happened to get steroids in his system, and his 2-year ban was shortened by USADA. Tom is now racing professionally again, and to the best of my knowledge, is well-liked by the Iowa racing community (not that it would necessarily matter to him…I’ve never talked with him, but he seemed like a nice guy when I saw him).

USADA Press Release

Zirbil Early Suspension


So, cut to today, now, November even. USADA representatives will likely be in Iowa at the three-day, UCI sanctioned (international) Jingle Cross cyclocross event being held November 16-18. They will be most interested in testing the professional men and women cyclocross racers, with more interest in the pro riders who win their races. But while they are here, there is absolutely nothing that could stop them from testing a slow old-fart like me, or a fast 17 year-old junior.


When we sign for a USA Cycling racing license, we agree to submit to testing. USADA gets to decide who, if, when, and where.


But there are some talented riders who may be appropriatelyusing physician-prescribed medications. They may consider asking for a Therapeutic Use Exemption prior to the race. An example would be a really fast junior, likely to podium, who uses an inhaler to control some type of asthma. If the rider did not have a TUE and was tested, and tested positive, he or she might be “OK” this one time if there was medical documentation. But the best course of action is to take care of the paperwork before the race. http://www.usada.org/tue/


But there is always option B…even if a rider is sanctioned for doping, they can still compete in non-sanctioned races where they don’t test for doping, and the promoters don’t care (about doping, that is). The leadership at the HyVee Triathlon did care…good for them! more info



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