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Coach and doctor administered EPO while Jeanson was just 16
By Charles Pelkey
The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) ordered that the former coach and doctor of now-retired cyclist Geneviève Jeanson be banned from sport for life, after concluding that they had “aided, abetted and assisted” in providing EPO to Jeanson throughout her career.
Relying on direct testimony from Jeanson, the panel found that André Aubut and physician Maurice Duquette had directly administered synthetic erythropoietin to Jeanson, including times during the early part of her career while she was a minor.
“The CCES is committed to investigating not only athletes, but any athlete support personnel who may be encouraging or directly facilitating the use of prohibited substances by athletes,” said Paul Melia, president and CEO of the CCES. “We believe that we have a duty to the sport community to remove individuals who use their positions of influence and authority over athletes to win with no regard to the consequences.”
The CCES began a 12-month investigation into the matter, following Jeanson’s September, 2007, interview with Radio Canada during which she alleged that Aubut and Duquette had provided and injected her with EPO starting when she was 16. Jeanson and Aubut were briefly married in 2006. Following her divorce, Jeanson began to outline details of an often-abusive relationship with Aubut.
Duquette, Jeanson’s physician, acknowledged the violation and waived his right to a hearing. Aubut, however, insisted on his innocence and asked for a hearing. On Wednesday, the panel announced that it found that Aubut had violated the provisions of Canada’s Doping Violations and Consequences Rules.
In his decision letter, Arbitrator Michel G. Picher noted that a lifetime ban was appropriate in the case of an adult coach coercing an underage athlete to use performance-enhancing substances.
“Since this anti-doping rule violation by Mr. Aubut involves in particular the administration of prohibited substances to a minor, the Arbitrator orders that the sanction for this violation be Lifetime ineligibility in accordance with Rule 7.36.”
Duquette also received a lifetime suspension and is banned from providing medical or other assistance to athletes participating in programs under the control of Canadian governing bodies.
The CCES found that Jeanson, now 27 years old, had committed numerous doping violations throughout her career and could also face a lifetime suspension. However, the panel found that since she had provided investigators with “ready assistance” by testifying in the case, her ban should be reduced to 10 years. The panel also recommended that Jeanson be permanently barred from receiving any assistance from federally funded sports programs should she choose to resume her cycling career in the future.
“This athlete’s admission to long-time use of EPO became a powerful tool to remove two influential members of her support team from the sport system,” said the CCES’s Melia.
A history of controversyJeanson burst on to the cycling scene at the age of 16 in 1998, winning both the juniors’ road race and time trial at that year’s Canadian road championships and finishing third at worlds. The following year, she won both the junior road race and time trial at worlds and nearly broke the existing women’s record at the Mount Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. She subsequently shattered the record in 2002.
Jeanson was named to the 2000 Canadian Olympic team, but caused considerable controversy when she chased down a break that included teammate Lyne Bessette. Aubut is said to have insisted upon the chase over Jeanson’s race radio.
She began to dominate women’s racing, often riding away from the field in early solo attacks that held all the way to the finish. In 2001, she won four of five stages at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, winning the overall by more than 10 minutes. Later that year, she won the Montréal World Cup by more than seven minutes, lapping much of the field in the process.
Jeanson was among the favorites to take a world title in 2003 when the championships were hosted on Canadian soil in Hamilton, Ontario. However, a pre-race hematocrit test showed her red-blood-cell count to be significantly above the 47 percent permitted under UCI rules. Exceeding the limit is not considered to be a doping violation, but riders are banned from competing for two weeks for “health reasons.” She later claimed her elevated hematocrit had resulted from her use of a hypobaric tent.
In 2005, she tested positive for EPO at the Tour de ‘Toona in Pennsylvania, a violation for which she was suspended for two years. However, before that suspension expired, Jeanson announced plans to retire from cycling and soon began revealing details of her past use of performance-enhancing substances.
Currently a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, Jeanson has repeatedly said she has no intention of ever returning to the sport.