Two riders caught doping at New York gran fondo

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Two riders have tested positive for EPO at the GFNY World Championship in New York, organisers announced on Tuesday.

Colombian Felipe Mendez and Argentinian Gabriel Raff both returned samples containing recombinant EPO in out-of-competition tests held in the lead up to the May 19 gran fondo.

Organisers claim that Mendez also “tried to claim his twin brother’s identity” during the doping control and then “showed up at the race start with a ‘broken’ wristband, which seems like an attempt to further hide his identity”. Mendez finished the day in 71st place while Raff was 25th.

Both cyclists have been disqualified from the GFNY World Championship and given lifetime bans from all GFNY events.

Organisers wrote on Tuesday that Mendez and Raff were among “several randomly selected athletes” in a testing pool of 60, which contained riders “with a legitimate chance to place in the top 10 overall or win an age group.”

“It’s simple: you can’t catch cheaters if you don’t perform doping controls,” said GFNY CEO Uli Fluhme. “These results show that testing is necessary and that it works. Unfortunately, most large races still don’t test which sends a clear, yet terribly worrying sign: doping is allowed here.

“We don’t allow course cutting at our races so why would we look the other way when it comes to doping? GFNY riders train hard for races. They deserve a fair competition. We owe them doping controls, even if the costs are now well over $15,000 each year.

“Not testing the athletes is a selfish, cost-saving decision from a race director. It forces everyone to take drugs to try to level the playing field.”

GFNY established doping controls back in 2012 and claims to be the first event open to amateurs that also institutes out-of-competition tests. In addition to receiving a lifetime ban, any rider who tests positive at a GFNY event has to reimburse the cost of the doping test. Mendez and Raff are the sixth and seventh riders to test positive in GFNY NYC’s nine-year history.

Open to professionals and amateurs alike, GFNY is a series of gran fondos held in 19 locations worldwide. At all GFNY events riders have a chance to qualify for “the elite race corral” at the GFNY World Championship in NYC, the series’ flagship event. The name “GFNY” is a reference to “Gran Fondo New York”, the name of the initial event that spawned the global series.

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