By Rob Jones, Special to VeloNews.com
Two-time cross-country world champion Roland Green announced Tuesdaythat he has been retroactively suspended for six months after testing positivefor a banned substance at the Houffalize, Belgium round of the World Cuplast May (see “Paulissen,Dahle rule Houffalize World Cup“).
Green’s suspension commenced July 4, 2004 and will conclude April 4th of this year. That is obviously longer than six months, but the suspension includes the UCI’s pre-defined “inactivity period” for mountain bike racers, which runs from November through January.
A hearing was recently conducted through the Sport Dispute ResolutionCentre of Canada with the participation of Green and the CCA (CanadianCycling Association).
Under the UCI Anti-doping regulations, it was determined that an infractionhad occurred, however, there were “mitigating circumstances” presentedas part of the decision rendered by the arbitrator. The UCI Anti-doping Commission has accepted the ruling, resulting in a six-month suspension for Green.Sean O’Donnell, the CCA Manager of High Performance Programs, also explainedthat, due to the timing of the infraction, the case had to be heard underthe older, and more punitive UCI regulations, rather than under the newWADA rules (which would have probably resulted in a warning).”The CCA remains supportive of Roland and we have maintained regularcommunication with him throughout this process”, said O’Donnell.”We are satisfied that Roland was not attempting to enhance performancethrough use of this medication. The infraction and subsequent suspensionwill in no way alter Roland’s status as a National Team member”.The suspension is for the substance Prednisolone, which is commonlyfound in asthma medication (in this case, in a prescription product calledSymbicort). Green has a documented history of exercise induced asthma,and has been cleared in the past to use an asthma inhaler. However,in a statement, Green admitted that he had not completed the necessarypaperwork prior to the start of the 2004 World Cup season, and thereforedid not have the required permission.”At the Houffalize, Belgium round of the World Cup on May 30, 2004 Itested positive for the medication in my asthma inhaler. Normally, thiswould not be a problem, since I have been cleared to use this medicationfor the past five years. However, last spring I failed to have my paperwork completed before leaving for Europe, which meant that I was not officiallycleared to use it.”This was completely my fault and, as a result, I have received a six-monthsuspension, and will not be allowed to compete until April 4. All of mysponsors, friends and family have been very supportive under these tryingcircumstances. My first race back will be Sea Otter Classic on April 14.I am really looking forward to racing again.”The suspension is the latest in a series of mishaps and bad fortunefor the Victoria rider, dating back to the 2003 edition of the Tour deGeorgia, when he crashed heavily, suffering shoulder and facial injuries.He then contracted chronic pneumonia, which was not diagnosed until thespring of 2004, and did not make the Canadian team for the Olympic Gamesin Athens.Green stopped racing after the Calgary round of the World Cup last year(the final selection event for the Canadian Olympic squad), and effectivelydisappeared from the racing scene, while he consulted with medical specialistsin California, and appealed his positive test. He recently signedwith Kona, after not having his contract renewed by Trek-VW for the 2005season, but says that Kona and his other sponsors have stayed on board,and that he has been training in California for a comeback this season.
A transcript of our interview with Green appears below.VeloNews: So how did this happen, exactly?Roland Green: At the Houffalize World Cup last year I was pickedfor a random (test), and they detected my asthma inhaler (medication).I’ve been cleared to use it for the last 5 years, but I didn’t have thepaperwork in (for 2004); it was totally my fault for not getting it in.VN: Given the circumstances – that you have a history of usingan inhaler – it seems a little harsh to give you a suspension rather thana warning.RG: Yeah, I wasn’t given the benefit of any doubt, for sure.There were two other (athletes), in Judo and Swimming, I think, who hadthe same thing (inhalers), and they were let off with warnings. Iguess it is just because it is cycling that they were being tough.
We did our best in presenting the case. The CCA backed me 100%- Sean O’Donnell (CCA High Performance) provided a lot of support.My doctor testified that the inhaler was strictly to reduce inflammationin the lungs, and that there was no performance enhancing (ability), butthey didn’t give any relief.
VN: You said that the suspension is six months – when does itend?RG: There is this complicated formula to figure out when it startsand ends, but the bottom line is that it ends April 4th.VN: So how does this affect the start of your season?RG: Well, my first race now will be Sea Otter. It has hada bit of an effect on how I am planning my season, it will definitely bea slower start. I’m on track, but missing the first few races, andespecially Redlands, will mean a slower start to the year. I hada really good three weeks training in Santa Rosa (California) – I rodea lot with Levi (Leipheimer – Gerolsteiner), got some really good milesin, but now I need some racing miles.VN: You are coming off a rough season last year, with sicknessand missing the Olympics. This can’t have helped.RG: It is really unfortunate, especially after last year.I heard in early June, but the positive had nothing to do with ending myseason (after the Calgary World Cup), it was not a factor. I hadchronic pneumonia, which was next to impossible to clear up. Partof it is just getting out of the hole that you find yourself in when youkeep training and racing.I went to the States and saw a bunch of specialists, and my body isclear of it now, it just takes time. It would have been easy to packit in last year, and I thought about it, but I just wasn’t ready for that.But, the suspension will be over before you know it, and I will put itbehind me.VN: You’ve just signed with Kona, everything is still okay there?RG: Of course, Kona wasn’t happy about this, but they’ve beenvery supportive, and everything is fine. Everybody – my sponsors,friends and family – have been very supportive through this ordeal.VN: How’s your motivation to race?RG: Just pin a number on me.