New drug doubts about cyclists

SYDNEY – A day after the Australian Olympic Committee gave five drug-investigated cyclists the all-clear to compete at the Athens Games, new claims of possible illegal drug use emerged yesterday on a TV current affairs show. Mark French, a 19-year-old former junior world champion, suspended for two years for drug use, told Channel Nine’s «60 Minutes» program that former world champion Sean Eadie and Shane Kelly had introduced him to a banned substance, Testicom, in Germany last year. French was later found guilty of two charges, involving trafficking of a glucocorticosteroid and equine growth hormone. Testicom is a glucocorticosteroid banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. In addition to the two-year ban, the AOC later handed French a lifetime ban from Olympic competition and added it would not approve any rider’s Athens cycling nomination unless it was satisfied the rider was clean. The «60 Minutes» program revealed sections of former Supreme Court Judge Robert Anderson’s report on his investigation into claims made by French against nominated Olympic team riders Kelly, Eadie, Jobie Dajka, Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster. Anderson singled out Dajka as becoming «shaken» and «defensive» when questioned about his connection with a family source for acquiring equine growth hormone (Equigen or EGH). Following the findings of Anderson’s preliminary report, the Australian Olympic Committee on Saturday approved all five cyclists to compete in Athens, though French’s credibility was brought into doubt by Anderson. But the clearance was given on the basis that no further information came to light in the ongoing investigation, which includes a police inquiry. The Anderson investigation came after the discovery of syringes and empty vials of a banned substance – equine growth hormone – in French’s room at the Australian Institute of Sport base in Adelaide last December. Anderson said he had acted on an anonymous tipoff. «During the course of inquiry, I received certain information from an anonymous source that Jobie Dajka had connection to a vet through the family’s interest in greyhound racing,» Anderson was quoted as saying. (AP)