British cyclist Campbell given one year drugs ban

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The Independent Online

The British cyclist Neil Campbell was last night banned for a year after being found guilty of a doping offence.

The British cyclist Neil Campbell was last night banned for a year after being found guilty of a doping offence.

Campbell tested positive at a World Cup track meeting in Turin on 13 July and at the British Championships on 29 July, with both samples showing higher concentrations of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) than permitted.

He had flown home from the Olympic training camp in Australia for urgent medical tests because the presence of HCG, not normally detectable in healthy males, can suggest the presence of testicular cancer.

Campbell was asked to account for the findings at a disciplinary hearing yesterday, after which he was found guilty of a breach of British Cycling Federation and international anti-doping regulations.

The BCF president, Brian Cookson, whose organisation took into account that this was Campbell's first offence, said: "While this finding is extremely disappointing, the BCF remains convinced the sport of cycling is leading the battle against doping in sport.

"Cycling has the most stringent testing procedures, including blood testing and health screening, and as a consequence has a track record of catching those who attempt to gain an unfair advantage. The message from this to all athletes must be: if you cheat you will get caught."

Campbell, who was included in the Olympic squad but not selected for Britain's final team, has also been fined 4,000 Swiss Francs (£1,600). He is now suspended from competition, coaching and officiating until 24 August 2001.

Cycling has a history of associated doping scandals dating back to the 19th century, but first became truly synonymous with drug misuse in the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the death of the British rider Tommy Simpson during a gruelling climbing stage of the 1967 Tour de France. The post mortem found traces of amphetamine in Simpson's blood.

More recently the Italian rider Marco Pantani, who won the 1998 Tour de France, was found to have a higher than permitted count of red cells in his blood when defending his title a year later.

Campbell, a sprint rider from the Wirral, is among a number of athletes confirmed as having tested positive for a banned substance in out-of-competition controls before the Olympics.

The World Anti-Doping Agency secretary general, Harry Salvasamy, revealed that 10 or 11 cases have been reported since the organisation began conducting unannounced tests in April as part of a new effort to weed out drug cheats.

The world agency was set up by the International Olympic Committee earlier this year to co-ordinate a global system of no-notice out-of-competition testing, considered an effective way of catching drug users.

Salvasamy said 1,811 tests have been carried out so far, with a total of more than 2,000 to be completed by the time the Games open on 15 September.

While the IOC will control drug testing during the Olympics, the world agency will assign 15 independent observers to monitor procedures.