Unfortunately, another story has come out regarding the attempted use of the banned substances EPO and hCG, this time by Adam Stewart, a cyclist from New Zealand. It is attempted use, because the drugs were found during a customs search, not as the result of a positive drug test. On the surface this seems like just another story about doping in cycling, but there are some harsh realities hidden within this story.
The cycling community has done a great deal to clean up the sport by implementing the passport program and taking an aggressive stance on doping as a whole. Some teams even pay for independent testing to add a further layer of protection. Comments by Floyd Landis recently have caused the community to evaluate whether EPO doping is part of the past or whether it continues to be used today. Landis has suggested that it is possible to engage in micro-dosing with EPO combined with traditional blood doping and not test positive in the current drug-testing system. Regardless of what you think about Landis and his allegations, these questions remain as significant concerns and must be answered and evaluated by the scientific community.
What the Adam Stewart situation does answer is a sad but true reality: EPO and its many analogues continue to be sought out and used today by elite cyclists. If Mr. Stewart was caught possessing the drug, one has to think that he had been using it for some time and not testing positive or producing blood values that are suspicious in the passport program. Or, perhaps this is the first time Mr. Stewart got the drug and he had not used it yet? One does have to wonder. If this was not the first time he used the drug then the question needs to be asked, why did he not get caught by the drug-testing system? If he was using EPO and not getting caught then we must look at why and try to address the cause.