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A 29-year-old cyclist from Western Australia has been handed a four-year ban from the sport after using a long list of prohibited substances between December 2009 and March 2015.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority today revealed that Michael Fitzgerald had used no fewer than 14 banned substances and methods over a period of more than five years, including Erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusions and several testosterone variants.
Former ASADA CEO Richard Ings described Fitzgerald’s list of doping offences as “one of the longest I have seen” and “a veritable rolling pharmacy”.
It’s not clear from information published by ASADA whether Fitzgerald tested positive or whether he admitted his wrongdoing to ASADA.
Fitzgerald, who raced at the Continental level with Navitas Satalyst in 2015, told CyclingTips that he’d taken the banned substances while being treated for an ongoing, debilitating illness.
“I started having some major health issues in 2010 with some signs earlier,” Fitzgerald said. “I spent 12 months during 2011 in bed unable to look after myself and had varying periods of good health followed but some exceptionally bad ones. I was finally diagnosed with Autoimmune hepatitis which I have been treated for since and life become much easier.
“Unfortunately during the periods when I was very sick I was treated with the banned substances (except red cells) and many others to do anything to improve my health or try to. Unfortunately I didn’t hand my license in which was a huge mistake while being treated.
“I find it painful that ASADA are intent on labelling me as a cheat. While I was wrong I was just trying to get any kind of quality of life.”
Fitzgerald’s four-year ban has been backdated to August 23, 2017 which, according to ASADA, is “due to delays not attributable to the athlete.”
CyclingTips has contacted ASADA for comment but no reply was received prior to publication.