• Doping exists at all levels of cycling (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Colombian Oscar Tovar has proved yet again that doping exists at all levels of cycling, not just the professional ranks.
By
29 Oct 2015 - 2:39 PM  UPDATED 29 Oct 2015 - 2:40 PM

Who is Oscar Tovar? He’s the winner of the 160km 2015 Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) which took place on 25 July 2015.

Or at least he was until today, when it was announced by organisers and the US Anti-Doping Agency  (USADA) that Tovar had tested positive for synthetic testosterone use during the the race.

As expected, Tovar has been banned from competition under World Anti Doping Agency (USADA) rules for two years and by the event for life.

“After a thorough review of the case, including a review of Tovar’s medical records, USADA determined that a two-year period of ineligibility was the appropriate outcome in this case,” the agency said in a statement.

“Tovar’s two-year period of ineligibility began on May 17, 2015, the day the sample was collected. In addition, Tovar has been disqualified from all competitive results achieved in competitions sanctioned by the UCI or any Code signatory on and subsequent to May 17, 2015, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.”

Also testing positive in the same race was another Colombian, Yamile Lugo, who finished third in the women’s event, also for a steroid.

It's not the first time this has happened.

Forget Lance Armstrong, the next big cycling doper could be your dad
The Gran Fondo New York bicycle race is the biggest mass-participation event of its kind in the state, a 160km run between Manhattan and Bear Mountain. In May 2012 the organisers introduced drug testing. With thousands of entrants, this expensive process was limited to a handful of riders. Of those, two came back positive for EPO (erythropoietin), a blood-boosting hormone largely associated with the most elite professional end of the sport. Both riders were banned for two years.

Both athletes had challenged the results of the test but failed to make their case to USADA.

“We are of course upset and hurt that a doper taints the reputation of our race and had us celebrate him on the day”, GFNY CEO Uli Fluhme said.

Organisers announced a new winner, Raul Montana, also from Colombia, while making the point that the men’s race may have unfolded differently if the now banned rider was clean.

“We are of course upset and hurt that a doper taints the reputation of our race and had us celebrate him on the day”, Fluhme said.

“However, it’s without a doubt more important for us to do what we can to make our race fair, of which doping controls are an integral part.

“Simply looking away and not testing the athletes is the worst decision that a race director can make because it forces everyone to take drugs to try to level the playing field.”