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Two riders caught taking EPO at Gran Fondo New York sportive

Joe Robinson
18 Jun 2019

Felipe Mendez of Colombia also pretended to be twin brother to avoid detection

Just how far would you go to get a good time at a sportive? Well, two riders went to the extent of taking EPO at the recent Campagnolo GFNY World Championship event in New York.

Felipe Mendez of Colombia and Gabriel Raff of Argentina have tested positive for the blood-boosting drug in an out-of-competition control after the popular sportive run by the Gran Fondo New York company.

The organisation confirmed in a statement that 'both were among several randomly selected athletes out of 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 then confirmed that both Mendez and Raff had tested positive for EPO and would, therefore, be handed a lifetime ban from GFNY events.

If the fact two riders doped for a sportive was not absurd enough, the story behind Mendez's positive takes it to a new level.

The organiser stated that Mendez attempted to avoid detection by claiming to be his twin brother, who also raced the event, while then turning up on the start line with a damaged wristband to further mask his identity.

Despite this elaborate attempt by Mendez to evade capture, he only manages to finish 71st. Raff, a former professional Ironman athlete, fared better than Mendez but still only mustered 25th.

The GFNY World Championship race is technically a sportive but doubles up as a race with prizes available for the winners.

CEO of the GFNY events, Uli Fluhme, took a pretty simple but hardline approach to the positive tests. 'It's simple: you can't catch cheaters if you don't perform doping controls. 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,' said Fluhme.

'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 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.'

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