Two-time Australian Paralympic gold medallist Michael Gallagher will miss the 2016 Rio Paralympics after receiving a provisional suspension from Cycling Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) revealed on Friday afernoon that Gallagher had returned a positive A sample for erythropoietin (EPO) in an out-of-competition training camp in Italy in July.
“The test was coordinated by ASADA as part of a comprehensive pre-Rio anti-doping program to ensure the integrity of the Australian Paralympic team,” ASADA wrote in a statement. “The provisional suspension is effective immediately and means Mr Gallagher will not compete at the Paralympics in Rio.
“ASADA has notified the athlete of his rights in this process and will continue its investigation of the matter.”
Cycling Australia issued a statement late on Friday afternoon confirming the suspension.
“Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green was made aware of the adverse analytical finding by ASADA this morning,” the statement read. “Green said today that Cycling Australia has a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ of drugs in sport and fully supports the rigorous testing done by ASADA and the action taken by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).
“As ASADA has an ongoing investigation into this matter, Cycling Australia will not be making further comments at this time.”
Gallagher represented Australia at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and at the 2012 Paralympics in London, winning gold medals in the Individual Pursuit in both games. The 38-year-old is also a 10-time track world champion, having won three 1km time trials and seven individual pursuit titles since 2006.
In addition to his Paralympic success, Gallagher also took bronze in the road race at the 2008 Paralympics, and in the time trial at the 2012 Games. He is well known in his home state of Victoria where he often races against able-bodied athletes, often with considerable success.
Gallagher races as a C5-classified Paralympic athlete as a result of Erb’s palsy in his right shoulder, a nerve condition that causes paralysis to part of the arm.
In a media statement, Australian Paralympic Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said: “The APC fiercely supports the fight against doping in sport and this is a reminder to all athletes that they will be caught if they do not comply with the rules, regardless of intent.”