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After more than a year of investigation and deliberation, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has announced that Tom Danielson will serve a four-year ban for his second doping positive.
But controversy remains. Danielson claims his positive test was the result of ingesting a contaminated product, and that this was the source of his reduced ban. USADA has stated it received no scientific evidence of contamination from Danielson.
“The basis for this reduced ban is unintentional ingestion of DHEA as the result of contamination from a supplement containing Maca root. The manufacturer of this Maca root product also produces a supplement containing DHEA, in the same facility, and this is likely how the contamination occurred,” Danielson said in a statement provided to CyclingTips on Thursday.
When contacted by VeloNews, USADA representative Ryan Madden Danielson’s statement.
“At no point during USADA’s investigation were we presented with scientific evidence suggesting that Mr. Danielson’s positive test resulted from a contaminated product,” Madden said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The potential sanction length for this case ranged from six months to eight years, depending upon mitigating circumstances. Had Mr. Danielson been able to prove that his positive test resulted from a contaminated product, then a sanction length of less than four years could have been considered.”
When VeloNews contacted Danielson regarding USADA’s position, he said he stands by his statement.
Danielson faced a potential eight-year ban from USADA after he tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition test administered on July 9, 2015. But Danielson’s case stalled in the months following the test.
In the year since the positive was announced, USADA issued few updates on the case. In June, an American Arbitration Panel moved a schedule hearing to allow more time to investigate potential supplement contamination.
Madden said USADA decided on a four-year ban for Danielson because it was a “fair and just outcome.”
“While we did not have scientific evidence proving supplement contamination which could have resulted in a sanction less than four-years, we also did not have evidence of his intentional cheating that would have necessitated an eight-year sanction,” he said.
The presence of DHEA in Danielson’s sample was confirmed using isotope ratio testing, a highly sensitive test method.
Danielson previously served a six-month suspension after admitting the using doping products while with the Discovery Channel team from 2005 to 2007. His testimony was part of USADA’s investigation into Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal team. Five other teammates also served reduced bans, rewards for their testimony in the case.
In his statement, Danielson re-affirmed his stance against doping, acknowledging his previous fault and stating that he “paid dearly for it, both physically and mentally, which led me to stop this behavior and take a strong stance against it.”
The reduced ban would allow Danielson, 38, to return to racing on August 3rd of 2019.