A few months ago Martin Maes was stripped of the first two wins in the Enduro World Series and suspended for 90 days. Why? Because race doctors at the New Zealand Enduro treated a badly infected cut in his leg with a drug that caused him to test positive for a prohibited substance. What follows is the full story on Martin’s suspension, provided by GT Bicycles:
INITIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT MARTIN MAES BY GT BICYCLES:
“On May 21, 2019, GT Factory Racing athlete Martin Maes was notified by the Cycling Anti-doping Federation (CADF) of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for a prohibited substance. There was a high level of Probenecid in his test samples from EWS Round 1 in New Zealand and EWS Round 2 in Tasmania in March 2019. Probenecid is on the UCI’s ‘List of Prohibited Substances and Methods.’ The Probenecid and a related antibiotic were prescribed by an official race doctor at the New Zealand Enduro to help treat a serious infection in Martin’s leg.”
THE DOCTOR’S STATEMENT:
“Martin sustained a lower-leg laceration, which developed a serious infection while racing the New Zealand Enduro [March 8–10, 2019]. The infection was worsening despite standard doses of antibiotics, and it had the potential to become life-threatening. The doctors at the New Zealand Enduro elected to add Probenecid, which is commonly used to boost blood levels of penicillin-type antibiotics, and it was effective in treating Martin’s infection. It is a common part of all of our practices to use this medicine in the setting of serious infection.
“At the time, neither the volunteer medical team nor Martin considered that Probenecid would be on the banned substance list. It has no performance-enhancing effects, and, in fact, Martin’s performance was likely to have been impaired in the weeks following due to the severity of the infection.”
—Dr. Tom Jerram MBChB (Hons) FACEM Emergency Physician and Volunteer Medical Director of the New Zealand Enduro.
STATEMENT FROM GT:
“On June 1, 2019, Martin received a denial for his Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) request,” said GT. “While the CADF TUE committee recognized the Probenecid was purely for medical reasons and that it would not have provided additional enhancement to Martin’s performance, the TUE was still not approved.
“GT Factory Racing fully supports Martin Maes in this situation due to the understanding that neither he, nor the team, took any actions to intentionally violate anti-doping rules or regulations. On the contrary, Martin inquired with the official race doctors if the prescriptions they had given him were acceptable for use by a UCI athlete and the race doctors were acting within their clinical responsibility to treat a potentially life-threatening infection in Martin’s leg.
“GT Factory Racing is committed to creating and fostering an environment where riders can perform to the best of their ability, within all rules and regulations mandated by the governing body of the sport. GT invests in teams and athletes because of the love of the sport, and racing is a way to connect with their passionate fan base.
“Each GT team and rider understands that support comes with strict requirements regarding the rules and regulations that govern the sport. It is for this reason that Martin will accept the UCI’s ruling.”
COMMENTS FROM MARTIN MAES:
“I’m speechless at the moment. My entire life has been dedicated to cycling and racing since 2013. I’ve trained so hard to make my dreams come true. There was an emergency to treat an infected wound, and we did not double-check the prescription from the doctors. This is our sole mistake. Now, it’s time to face the situation, train harder than ever, and get back very soon to convert that frustration into pleasure and performance on my bike.”
FURTHER COMMENTS BY GT:
“The UCI complies with a set of strict rules and regulations, but also fully acknowledged the circumstances and that this was not a deliberate violation of any anti-doping rules. As a result, Martin will be prohibited from racing for a period of ninety days. He will be disqualified from rounds 1 and 2 of the EWS and will be required to pay a fine of 2,500CHF. However, his win and results from EWS Madeira will not be affected as he returned a negative test result after going through doping controls at this event.
“Martin is and will remain an advocate for clean and fair racing. He will return to the season stronger than before. Meanwhile, he’ll stand next to his teammates and will fully support them during the next Enduro World Series events.”
Editor’s note: At the end of the summer, Martin Maes returned to action to win the final event of the 2019 Enduro World Series. Even though Maes didn’t win the year-end title, which was won by Sam Hill, the final race did give a good indication of how much of a threat Maes will likely be on the EWS circuit in the years ahead.