JOHANNESBURG (AP) — David George became the latest former teammate of Lance Armstrong to be banned from cycling for doping on Wednesday, receiving a two-year suspension after he chose not to give evidence at a hearing before South Africa’s anti-doping body.
George did not attend Saturday’s disciplinary proceedings and claimed that he had taken the blood-booster EPO in isolation and there was no doping infrastructure in his case, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport said in a statement.
The two-time Commonwealth Games medalist and former Olympic cyclist had been given a chance to speak at the hearing, where his punishment could have been reduced if he provided information on how he obtained the drug.
“George claims his EPO doping was isolated to himself and he could not provide us with information in terms of an infrastructure of doping,” SAIDS chief executive Khalid Galant said. “Hence he received the standard two-year ban as there were no grounds for a reduction in this sanction.”
The South African rode on Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team in 1999 and 2000.
Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping following a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which largely hinged on evidence from Armstrong’s former teammates, including Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.
The 36-year-old George admitted last month that he used EPO, or Erythropoietin, after failing an out-of-competition test in August.
“He (George) admitted guilt prior to the hearing and preferred the sanction to be determined as soon as possible,” Galant said Wednesday. “The athlete has the right to waive his participation in a hearing without prejudice.”
In a statement admitting his guilt, George said cycling had been “a confusing space” for him.
“Although it has given me incredible moments it has also given me experiences that no person or young athlete should have to go through,” George said in November.
SAIDS said George had agreed to help South Africa’s anti-doping body with its test planning in an “attempt to atone for the doping offense to the cycling community.”
George was required to forfeit any prize money or competition points gained after Nov. 5.
Galant said his victory at this year’s Cape Pioneer Trek mountain bike race with riding partner Kevin Evans was rescinded and the results would be “re-issued.”
George was caught after his biological passport — an analysis of an athlete’s blood profile — showed suspicious activity and triggered a urine test. EPO is a hormone that artificially increases the red blood cell account and enables athletes to carry more oxygen in their blood, improving their endurance.