Having already admitted to taking EPO this year, David George will be given a chance to explain the extent doping played throughout his cycling career when he appears in front of a tribunal to determine the length of his ban from the sport.
George has already hinted, in his confessional statement on Tuesday, that the positive test on August 29 was not a one-off when he said cycling had given him “experiences that no person or young athlete should have to go through”.
Robbie Hunter, South Africa’s most successful cyclist, believes George should take the chance to tell all that he knows for the good of the sport in the country.
Hunter said yesterday George had been dogged by suspicions of doping during his career. When the announcement was made on Tuesday that George had failed a test for EPO, Hunter tweeted: “15-year time bomb just went bang …”
Greg Minnaar, the world downhill mountain bike champion, agreed with Hunter with his tweet: “I don’t even know why I’m disappointed in David George’s positive test, it was only a matter of time … you can only dodge so many bullets.”
Hunter, who has had an acrimonious relationship with George for over a decade, said he had heard stories about George being connected with performance-enhancing drugs back in 2000.
“David came to me in 2000, his second year with US Postal and gave me a sob story about falling out with the team, how Lance (Armstrong) didn’t like him and Johan (Bruyneel, the team manager) wouldn’t let him race,” said Hunter.
“I tried to help him out. At the Tour of Poland that year, Johan came and told me they were worried about David as he kept disappearing back to South Africa without informing the team when he was supposed to be in Europe.
“That’s when I decided that I wanted nothing to do with him. If there was any suspicion that he was doing anything wrong, then I didn’t want him near me.”
Given the current climate in cycling, with anti-doping authorities having stepped up their efforts and are now better armed with the biological passport that tracks a rider’s blood values for suspicion of doping, for George to be caught using EPO was just “stupid”, said Hunter.
“I don’t know how he thought he would get away with it. Perhaps it was arrogance. Some people are really stupid and think they are going to get away with that.
“With the way cycling is now, with so much going down with Lance to think you can get still away with it, shows you are stupid or arrogant. The testers now know how the guys are doing it and how they were getting away with it.
“It’s not the first time George has been in trouble,” said Hunter.
At the Tre Valli Varesine race in Italy in 2004, George, then with Barloworld, was found to have an elevated hematocrit level of over 50 percent.
He was stood down from competition for 15 days, as per the International Cycling Union (UCI) rules, but did not test positive for EPO.
Asked why he had not made public his suspicions before, Hunter said that like Armstrong there had never been a positive test, no absolute proof.
“Accusing someone of doping is a serious thing. I know that there wasn’t proof he’d been doping, but a lot of people had their suspicions.
“There was a lot of talk amongst the riders. Then, a couple of years down the line you get caught after your hematocrit is reported to be high, well, you just haven’t learnt your lesson.
“He’s gone and tarred a lot of people with the same brush, he’s chased a sponsor from the sport and he’s possibly cost a good guy like Kevin Evans his job. It’s a stupid, selfish thing to do. It’s good that he’s not going to fight it. Let’s see what he says at his hearing. I hope he does the right thing.”
Cycling South Africa spokesman Willie Newman said yesterday George’s tribunal would be held as “soon as possible”.