Yeti/Fox Shox Factory Team rider Richie Rude has announced that he is returning to Enduro World Series competition after an eight-month suspension following a positive doping control result in the EWS round at Olargues, France in May 2018.
The doping control was, as far as we know, the first time a mandatory test had been held at an EWS round and resulted in the positive results of Richie Rude and former teammate Jared Graves, as revealed on Pinkbike late last year. Both are former World Champions in the sport.
Both riders had tested positive for two banned substances, namely Higenamine and Oxilofrine. The former is a beta-2 agonist and serves as a stimulant and weight loss aid that's often found in dietary supplements but is prohibited at all times and the latter is an amphetamine analogue that's banned in competition. The testing was carried out by the French anti-doping agency, the AFLD, and hosted by the EWS organisers.
In his post, Richie said: "So, in case some of you weren’t up to speed… Last year I had a doping infraction while racing in France. This whole thing was a shock to me. All in all it was accidental ingestion of the substance. I had run out of water and used someone else’s bottle as we climbed up to the start of another stage."
Under the rules of strict liability, an athlete is responsible for any banned substance found in their blood, regardless of whether it was consumed knowingly or unknowingly, with a particular emphasis on checking the ingredients of any supplements. Rhyno Power, a sports supplement manufacturer who sponsored both Rude and Graves strongly denied any possibility that is was their supplements that could be responsible at the time.
Rude continued: "Due to it being accidental and the French anti-doping authorities also seeing it in this light, my suspension was back dated to when I stopped racing last season, and now I am free [to] continue the sport that I love. I'm thankfully to be moving on from this. I hope this brings awareness and stands as a learning experience to others."
There's no reference to which rider might have given him the bottle and whether that rider might be facing greater sanctions. The ruling hasn't been made available on the AFLD website and there's no word whether he will face any further sanctions from the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). The French AFLD agency has only recently fully aligned its rules with those of WADA.
Jared Graves has withdrawn from all competition following his diagnosis of a brain tumour in September 2018.
We contacted both the EWS organisers and the French AFLD anti-doping control in November for comment on this matter and both were unable to on the grounds of the investigation being ongoing.
The EWS highlighted this to teams at the start of the season. The EWS became UCI sanctioned in June 2018, reportedly due to their desire to have greater access to anti-doping controls, amongst other reasons.
The EWS announced that it would have a zero-tolerance approach to doping when the series was first announced, stating in its rulebook: "With the interests of keeping enduro mountain biking clean from the start and to avoid the spirit and reputation of enduro mountain bike racing from being brought into disrepute, any cyclist, regardless of cycling discipline, who has previously been found guilty by any court or regulatory body of any use of or involvement with banned, performance enhancing drugs will not be entitled to compete or take part in any Enduro World Series event."
It changed its rulebook in March 2019. The section now reads: "The EWS will respect all penalties imposed by any Anti-Doping agency on any rider in the EWS. Any rider serving a ban imposed by any Anti-Doping Agency, in any individual nation, will not be able to compete in any EWS event or any EWS affiliate event (Trophy of Nations, Qualifier, Continental Series) for the duration of that ban. This includes any results retrospective penalties. The Board of EWS reserve the right to maintain a zero-tolerance approach to drug taking in the EWS."
We've reached out to the EWS organisers for comment on whether this meant they were no longer enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on doping and dopers in the sport and received this response: "We acknowledge the independent investigation and ruling made by the AFLD in Richie Rude’s case, and have adjusted the Olargues race result and 2018 series rankings accordingly. We hope the case serves to highlight the importance of education on the topic of anti-doping to all riders in our sport.”
You might also like: