Report: Olivia Ray admits to using banned substances

The reigning New Zealand national road race champion was dropped by Human Powered Health earlier this year and is now awaiting USADA's final decision on a ban.

by VeloNews


This story originally appeared on VeloNews.com.

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand national road race champion Olivia Ray has admitted to taking Clenbuterol and Anavar, both banned substances.

In early March, Ray was removed from the roster of her team, Human Powered Health. No explanation was given at the time or subsequently; however, a story that appeared on CyclingTips at the time hinted that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had opened an investigation into Ray.

Ray never failed a drug test, but according to the New Zealand Herald, she admitted to USADA via a series of two interviews that she used Clenbuterol — a steroid-like weight loss substance banned by sports bodies across the world — first in May and then again in November of 2021.

“I took stuff from about November to December, just the month of November.”

“I wasn’t racing,” she said. “I wasn’t going to have anything in me for when I raced. I thought in a way it was acceptable because I wasn’t affecting the race, I wasn’t cheating. I was doing it in a safe space on my own to see what it was like. That was the thinking that he had created, ‘just try it blah blah blah … ‘”

“He” refers to Ray’s then-boyfriend, a former racer on the US domestic crit circuit. 

Ray, who just turned 24 this month, said that she chose to take the substances, but did so largely as a result of pressure from that boyfriend.

“I didn’t necessarily choose to take these, but I wasn’t necessarily forced,” Ray told the New Zealand Herald.

“I’m not denying [taking banned supplements],” she said. “I’m very open that I did drugs. I’m just coming to deal with the consequences now.”

The USADA investigation began as a result of another unrelated issue with Ray’s then-boyfriend. In January, he applied to get a protective order against his ex-girlfriend from 2017, Madeline Pearce, also an amateur cyclist in the US. He claimed Pearce was stalking him, but the allegation and case were dismissed. 

However, photos of banned substances at at the house where Ray and her boyfriend lived at the time were used during the investigation. 

According to the interview in the New Zealand Herald, it was those photos, coupled with a screenshot of a message on Ray’s cell phone discussing the side effects of her Clenbuterol usage that ultimately linked her to the drugs

The Herald also noted the likelihood that Pearce was the person who notified USADA of Ray’s performance-enhancing drugs

USADA’s investigation began sometime around February.

Ray told the New Zealand Herald that a week after winning the national championships she received an email from the Human Powered Health team lawyer with copies of the texts she had sent to her former boyfriend discussing drug side effects. Pearce’s photos of the PEDs in the Atlanta apartment where Ray had lived with her boyfriend were also included in the email.

“So I get told I am on paid leave, and they’ve cancelled my flight [for a team tour to Spain],” Ray told the Weekend Herald.

“Then a couple of days later I get an email from the owner of the team – Charles, who is an amazing guy – with a document that details I have been fired for misconduct, false police report, lying in court, doing banned substances. This was February. Then the team took me off the website. People picked up on that.”

Ray says she accepted a ban from USADA starting in March 2022, but that the length of the ban has not been determined. She could be banned for up to four years.

As for the effectiveness of the substances, Ray doesn’t think there was much of any performance gain. “And that’s probably the thing that kills me now: that it didn’t do anything.

“The fact that I felt worse and didn’t change really makes it pointless.”

Ray declined to comment to VeloNews for this story.

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