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MILAN (VN) — South African Daryl Impey may return to race with team Orica-GreenEdge after a hearing Thursday in Johannesburg determined his doping positive was due to a pharmacist’s error.
“We are extremely happy with the fact that Daryl has been 100 percent cleared to race and we all look forward to having him back riding for us,” team Orica’s general manager, Shayne Bannan, said. “We very pleased with how he has handled his case and the process around it. We will reinstate Daryl in our racing roster as soon as possible.”
“I’m thrilled to have been given the notification that I’m 100 percent OK to race again and no sanction whatsoever will be applied,” added Impey. “I was confident in my defense and I’m thankful that I was given the chance clear my name beyond any type of doubt.”
The 29-year-old was forced to clear his name after the results of an anti-doping test that were announced on July 2, on the eve of the 2014 Tour de France.
At the 2013 Tour de France, Impey made headlines when he placed 13th on the stage to Montpellier, took over the race lead and became the first African to wear the yellow jersey. He held it for two days.
The tests results, however, showed him positive for the banned diuretic Probenecid from the February 6 South African national road championships. He was removed from Orica’s nine-man Tour team before the race began.
Probenecid is a substance used to treat gout and hyperuricema but banned because it can be used as a masking agent. The 1988 Tour de France winner, Spaniard Pedro Delgado, tested positive for Probenecid but was later cleared and kept his title.
Impey’s defense focused on a pharmacy in Durban, on the country’s eastern coast. A report in The Star newspaper explained that the pharmacist gave Probenecid to another customer and sold Impey empty gel capsules with contaminated hands. The Durban pharmacist took the blame and produced cash register receipts showing the times of the purchases.
Impey explained that he needed the gel capsules to fill with bicarbonate of soda in order to fight against lactic acid in the championship race. He went early in the morning to buy them, he said, but the pharmacy did not have any. Later, the pharmacist called Impey to say that he found some and Impey returned in the afternoon to buy them.
“It’s just utter, utter relief that justice has been done,” Impey said in The Star’s article. “Everything that has happened, all the bad publicity, all the mud that has been thrown at my name, it’s never going to be rectified, but I knew I hadn’t doped, and would never dope. We presented the hearing with hard facts, factual proof. This was no ‘maybe’ or ‘could have been.'”
Impey last raced at the Critérium du Dauphiné, closing the race June 15 in 89th overall. He is reportedly due to return to racing at the Canadian one-day races in Quebec and Montreal on September 12 and 14, three months after the announcement, and seven months after the test. He also hopes to compete in the world championships in Ponferrada, Spain, in late September.
“This is something that should have been handled quicker. Athlete’s rights are as important as anyone else’s,” added Impey.
“It was hugely disappointing missing out on Tour de France, and the Vuelta. This could have been sorted out in May and April, I could have got on with my career. … There have been massive repercussions for my family and me. My name has been dragged through the mud.
“We found the source, the hearing found no fault, no negligence on my part. We gave them the facts. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even the right place at the wrong time, almost cost me my entire career. Cycling is not a hobby for me. This puts bread and butter on the table for my family.”