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AIS Track stars deny doping involvement

Track stars rebuff 'doping' attention 

Members of the embattled AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) have hit out in response to the "Michael French affair" which is very high profile in Australia and across the world at the moment.

French was handed a 2 year suspension for drug offences by Australian Cycling early in June and this became a huge popular media interest  last week when a question about  the alleged systematic nature of doping at the AIS cycling centre was asked in the Australian Senate. This week, amid continued claims of his innocence, Mark French has been given a lifetime ban from representing Australia in Olympic competition for his offences.

The focus of the attention in the past week has been the alleged use of French's room at the AIS in Adelaide for injection of vitamins and also proscribed substances. It is claimed that up to 5 riders met there regularly to inject banned drugs including Equine Growth Hormone. French was called upon to 'name names' and to allow his allegations to be used in an investigation.  This, he has now allowed, but the names of the other alleged involved cyclists cannot be revealed. 

Domestically, questions and statements surrounding the affair were read out in the country's ruling Senate and the AOC (Australian Olympic Commission)  called for an investigation into the affair to ensure that the drug allegations against all cyclists were complete prior to the date upon which the Olympic Team for Athens will be named - 9 July 2004.

As a result, a group of 7 AIS track cyclists have taken the opportunity to make a statement about their non-involvement in this affair. Cycling Australia is keen to point out that none of the cyclists are necessarily implicated with involvement and no inference of such is to be taken by their release of the statement.

 The riders include 3 women on the track squad - Rosealee Hubbard, Anna Meares and Kerrie Meares (Kerrie is currently recovering from a back injury and not in competition / selection for Athens  (to see story - click here). Hubbard and A Meares are in line for Athens selection. A Meares recently won a gold and silver at the World Track Championships in Melbourne (to see story - click here)

The rider's statement, released by Cycling Australia reads : 

"Joint statement by members of the AIS / National Track Sprint Cycling program

22 June 2004

We, the undersigned, are members of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) / Cycling Australia (CA) Track Sprint Cycling program, and would like to make the following statement in relation to the recent doping allegations.
 
As elite athletes we are regularly subjected to medical controls conducted under the auspices of the Australian Sport Drug Agency (ASDA), World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), Cycling Australia (CA), Australian Sports Commission (ASC), and the International Cycling Union (UCI).

At no time have any of us tested positive to the use of any banned substance. Our medical control records are attached to support this fact.
 
Through the AIS and CA, we are involved in an annual Drug Education program. AIS and CA staff are available to us at all times to answer any questions we have on the anti-doping policies of the ASC, CA and the UCI.
 
As a group we are committed to competing ‘drug-free’ and as such we are extremely disappointed and angry at recent ill-informed comments and innuendo that has cast a slur on our sport and us as individuals. We are upset that these unsubstantiated allegations are being treated as fact by the media, and by several other parties.
 
We were all investigated as part of the independent investigation by Mr Justin Stanwix and nobody within this group was found to have breached the ASC or CA anti-doping policy. Having been cleared of any wrong doing, we view these false allegations as unfair and damaging to both our reputations and our livelihoods.
 
Having said that we welcome yesterday’s announcement of a further independent investigation and want it to be known that we will cooperate fully as we have nothing to hide.
 
We only ask that any such investigation be conducted swiftly so that this matter can be resolved and we can focus on preparing to represent Australia at the Athens Olympic Games.
 
Ryan Bayley, Jobie Dajka, Sean Eadie, Shane Kelly, Rosealee Hubbard, Anna Meares, Kerrie Meares (currently on leave due to injury)"

Cycling Australia has welcomed the appointment of former West Australian Justice Robert Anderson QC to head a further independent investigation.

 

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