The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has announced the life-time suspension of former Fly V Australia rider Phil Zajicek after he admitted to a second doping offense for purchasing erythropoietin (EPO), and a third doping offense for providing false testimony at an American Arbitration Association (AAA) panel hearing, as well as encouraging other witnesses to provide false testimony.
“Today, I have accepted a lifetime ban from the sport of cycling,” Zajicek said in an email sent to VeloNews. “I have had an enjoyable and successful career which has taken me to all corners of the of the globe and I’m grateful for everything cycling has given me. It’s time to walk away from the sport and begin the next chapter of my life with the tremendous support of my wife, family and friends behind me.”
Zajicek’s first offense was the result of an adverse analytical finding for the stimulant cathine in 2004.
Zajicek, 32, will serve a lifetime period of ineligibility which began on June 5, 2011, the day he accepted the sanction. In addition to the lifetime period of ineligibility, Zajicek will pay USADA $5,000 for expenses associated with his conduct.
“Mr. Zajicek has accepted responsibility for his actions, and is aware that the severity of his sanction is a direct result of him intentionally cheating his fellow competitors and then providing false testimony in an effort to escape punishment,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart.
As a result of the sanction, Zajicek is also disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to April 24, 2007, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.
Zajicek’s first doping violation occured at the 2004 Tour of Qinghai Lake, in China, which he won. His victory was disqualified, however, when he tested above the allowed limit for cathine (norpseudoephedrine). Cathine is a metabolite of pseudoephedrine but its presence is prohibited above a concentration in urine of 5mcg/ml. At the time Zajicek issued a statement admitting that he had been taking Sudafed, which contains pseudoephedrine “in a normal adult dose to combat occasional allergies.”
Zajicek was charged with a non-analytical doping violation in 2010, just prior to the U.S. pro road championships. However he was acquitted after an arbitration hearing in Denver and was allowed to race. At the time, anti-doping officials confirmed the arbitration meeting had taken place but did not confirm that Zajicek was the rider.
The non-analytical violation stems from dealings with former rider Joe Papp, who in February 2010 pleaded guilty in a Pennsylvania federal court to conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone and recombinant erythropoietin, that he had imported from a Chinese company. Other athletes, including cyclists, have been sanctioned for doping violations as a result of having conspired with Papp. Zajicek’s was the first case to go to a hearing.
Since he turned pro with Mercury in 2000 at the age of 20, Zajicek had been viewed as one of the most talented riders in the U.S. His career highlights include an overall win at the 2007 Cascade Cycling Classic and a mountain stage win at the 2009 Tour of the Gila ahead of Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, where he finished third overall. Zajicek was the top American non-ProTour rider at the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, finishing 10th overall.
Zajicek was originally slated to spend the 2011 season racing in Europe on the Pegasus Sports team run by Fly V Australia team boss Chris White.
When that team was denied WorldTour and Pro Continental status, however, Zajicek was cut adrift.
He has raced this year for the amateur team Monster Media, winning the March 20 Tucson Bicycle Classic and finishing 13th overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
Related: USADA press release on Zajicek