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Cyclocross

Katie Compton on USADA ban: ‘I have always been a clean athlete’

Katie Compton has said she never intentionally or knowingly took a banned substance after USADA issued her a four-year ban.

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U.S. cyclocross great Katie Compton pushed back on Wednesday’s bombshell news from the U.S. Anti-doping agency that she had tested positive for a banned anabolic agent in 2020.

In a statement issued to the press, Compton, 42, said she had never knowingly or intentionally put a banned anabolic steroid into her body — a statement that contradicts the USADA statement on her. Compton also said she was ending her professional career in the wake of the news, and that she was stepping away from the sport.

“Ending my career this way is simply soul-crushing,” Compton wrote. “It physically hurts and makes me incredibly sad.”

On Wednesday USADA published a statement saying that Compton had accepted a four-year ban after a sample taken in September, 2020, tested positive for a banned anabolic agent after it was analyzed using a Carbon Isotope Ratio test, which is reportedly able to detect natural anabolic agents and those introduced from outside of the body.

Compton pushed back on the USADA report, saying that she was initially informed that her sample from September, 2020 returned a negative result. Compton said that in early 2021 she was informed that the same sample had returned a positive result for exogenous anabolic steroids.

“This was devastating news to me as I have never intentionally or knowingly put anything like that into my body,” Compton wrote. “I know how delicate women’s hormones are, and I would never choose to take anything to jeopardize my health and, as a result, suffer irreparable damage to my endocrine system. And not only that, I never took anything for ethical and moral reasons; I’ve been a strong proponent of clean sport my entire career and feel doing anything to enhance one’s own natural ability is cheating, full stop.”

Compton said she hired a lawyer in March in an attempt to defend herself, but that she was unsuccessful in finding out how the banned substance got into her system. She said that she has decided to stop fighting the legal battle, and has instead accepted the sanction due to the expenses involved with the legal battle.

“So, it is with great stress and sorrow that I’ve ended my competitive career,” Compton wrote. “My friends and family know how much I’m against doping and know it is a topic in which I have always been outspoken. This news is gut-wrenching to me and the worst period I’ve ever experienced during my life so far. I’ve processed all the emotions over the past year and realized that I don’t need bike racing in my life anymore. I still love riding my bike and enjoying that with friends, but I have no desire to ever race or be competitive again, which is probably good since the sanction includes a four-year ban from competition.”

Compton is the most decorated U.S. cyclocross racer ever, with 15 elite national titles and a collection of World Cup victories and world championships medals.

Katie Compton’s full statement below:

This news comes with great heartache and sadness, and it is the worst possible way to end my cycling career. I need to preface this news with the fact that I have always been a clean athlete, and I am proud of how much I have accomplished racing clean and being very careful with whatever I put into my body, especially after dealing with so many health issues throughout my life.

I provided a sample for USADA in September 2020 that came back negative for any banned substances, it was not even atypical. That news was communicated to me in the same way it has always been via a letter from USADA. I’ve received that same letter after every test I’ve submitted for the last 19 years. In early February of 2021, after returning from a difficult race season, I learned that the same sample from September was re-analyzed due to a bio-passport irregularity and found to be positive for an exogenous anabolic steroid. This was devastating news to me as I have never intentionally or knowingly put anything like that into my body. I know how delicate women’s hormones are, and I would never choose to take anything to jeopardize my health and, as a result, suffer irreparable damage to my endocrine system. And not only that, I never took anything for ethical and moral reasons; I’ve been a strong proponent of clean sport my entire career and feel doing anything to enhance one’s own natural ability is cheating, full stop.

Despite deciding to retire in March, I also felt the need to try and defend myself and my reputation. I hired a lawyer and did my best to investigate how the substance got into my system but was unsuccessful in finding that answer. Over the past six months, I learned that I cannot prove that I didn’t intentionally take anything, and I can’t afford to keep fighting knowing the outcome will be the same regardless. Unfortunately, seeing that it was five months between the sample collection and the notification, trying to figure what allegedly got into my body proved to be impossible, and I have decided to stop fighting an expensive and difficult battle and accept the sanction.

So, it is with great stress and sorrow that I’ve ended my competitive career. My friends and family know how much I’m against doping and know it is a topic in which I have always been outspoken. This news is gut-wrenching to me and the worst period I’ve ever experienced during my life so far. I’ve processed all the emotions over the past year and realized that I don’t need bike racing in my life anymore. I still love riding my bike and enjoying that with friends, but I have no desire to ever race or be competitive again, which is probably good since the sanction includes a four-year ban from competition.

I wanted to share this news prior to USADA releasing it to the public so you hear it from me first. I’m obviously stepping away from the competitive cycling world for the next few years and don’t know what my future within the sport may look like post sanction, but I want people to know that I’ll miss the racing community, specifically all the amazing people I’ve met along the way who simply share the love of riding bikes. I’ll always cherish the experiences and wonderful adventures cycling has given me while also acknowledging that it has brought me plenty of heartache and disappointment, and I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted. Ending my career this way is simply soul-crushing. It physically hurts and makes me incredibly sad.