While not exactly the most popular sports in the United States (though interest has been growing significantly over the last 30 years), cycling – particularly professional cycling – has a dedicated international following as well as a nasty reputation for athletes willing to do anything and everything to dominate the sport.
Most people are fully aware of the rise to international superstardom of Lance Armstrong during his stunning reign as the Tour de France king, and many more are fully aware of his fall from grace after he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during that stage of dominance.
A lot of people aren’t aware of the fact that almost all of the people Lance Armstrong was going up against during that stretch of time were also found to have been doping as well, some doping a lot more egregiously than Armstrong ever did.
As we highlighted above, the sport of cycling has a pretty dark past when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, anabolic steroids, and other competition cheating chemical cocktails.
In an effort to clean up this reputation, and to make sure that America doesn’t produce another Lance Armstrong situation, the USADA is cracking down significantly on cyclists in particular when it comes to waivers they offer for medical expert prescribed testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Over the last few years, more and more cyclists have been requesting waivers from the USADA – particularly amateur athletes looking to go professional – after they have received prescriptions from their doctors for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
Until just recently, the USADA approved almost all of these applications though they did have a rather arduous and stringent process to make sure that all of these requests were on the up and up and were fully legitimate.
However, after noticing the rising tide in these kinds of waivers and questioning whether or not these athletes were actually utilizing these procedures for legitimate medical purposes or hoping to gain a competitive advantage, the USADA is cracking down pretty hard.
Today, any cyclist that has failed to obtain a therapeutic use exemption that grants them exclusive permission to use any otherwise prohibited anabolic steroid will be punished significantly.
In the last year, three different cyclists have been punished for between 12 months and 24 months because they weren’t able to receive that therapeutic use exemption before moving forward with HRT or TRT.
These cyclists – Shaun Moffat, Buster Brown, and Daniel Frazier – all claim that they had been prescribed TRT for HRT needs under the supervision of a qualified physician but none of them had actually requested a waiver from the USADA ahead of time.
Moffat was busted during competition in December 2017 after it was found that 39-year-old cyclist from San Antonio had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Initially, USADA accepted his explanation of utilizing TRT, but still handed him the 21 month suspension because he didn’t get a therapeutic use exemption ahead of time.
Brown, 53, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and anabolic steroids during an out of competition sample that was collected back in October. Brown again stated he was utilizing HRT under the supervision of his medical physician, and the USADA rejected out of hand’s application for a therapeutic use exemption and a recreational competitor therapeutic use exemption because he asked for both of them retroactive to his suspension.
Finally, Frazier, age 49, tested positive for testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs during the 2017 Detroit Cycling Championship in September. He again tried to retroactively apply for a therapeutic use exemption and was denied, and received a 12 month suspension after popping positive.
The lesson, at the end of the day, is that the USADA is open to allowing individual athletes to use TRT and HRT solutions for legitimate medicine all purposes. But they aren’t going to allow ANY abuse of the system and will come down with a hammer on any athlete that tries to get away with something untoward.