Daryl Impey, Africa’s first and only cyclist to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey, has had to withdraw from this year’s cycle race due to a positive drug test following South Africa’s national time trial championships in February. In a statement on his website today, Impey said he was shocked by the announcement just days before the start of the prestigious international race on Saturday. He was especially shocked since there had not been any “adverse results” when anti-doping tests were done on February 8 and 9 directly after the trials. He has vowed that he will prove his innocence.
Impey said Mr. William Newman of Cycling South Africa contacted him on June 23 to say he had tested positive for Probenecid, which according to the NIH is a drug that is used to help prevent attacks of gouty arthritis and chronic gout. Essentially it is a diuretic that helps the body get rid of uric acid via the kidneys and can prevent the body from discharging antibiotics through urine, thus making the antibiotics more effective. In his website statement he said he knew nothing about the drug and had never knowingly taken it.
Impey said he returned to South Africa immediately after Newman had contacted him, and was present when his B sample was analyzed last Friday, June 27. Acknowledging that the results confirmed the previous analysis, he said he was “extremely distressed by the finding.” He also said he had always been sure to race “clean,” and that his success so far had been the result of dedication and hard work. He said he notified his Australian ORICA GreenEDGE team as soon as he was told by Cycling South Africa that there had been an “adverse finding.”
Daryl Impey said this was a very difficult time and thanked his team for their support in the statement. He remained confident, he said, that he would be “vindicated and proved innocent of any wrongdoing.”
I am committed to drug-free sport and fully intend to take all steps necessary to clear myself of any suspicion. Daryl Impey
Daryl Impey Wears the Yellow Jersey
Impey became the first African to wear the yellow jersey in July last year after winning stage six of the 100th Tour de France. How it happened was that Impey was in a group of 16 cyclists at the front of the race. Team mate Simon Gerrans, who had worn the yellow jersey on the previous two days, conceded five seconds to Impey just before the finish line, allowing him to win. “Everyone pitched in to get me this yellow jersey,” he said at the time. “This is super special for me, and it’s a massive moment for South African cycling.”
While an enormous and much heralded milestone, the cyclist who now lives with his wife and young son in Spain, said at the time that he had won many stages and races on the European circuit. These though had gone largely unnoticed in his home country, South Africa. For instance, in April last year he won a two-stage victory for his team at the Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco) for the second year running. In May last year he won stage two of the German Bayern Rundfahrt Road Race held in Bavaria and took the overall leader’s jersey. Additionally, he has won the South African Road Cycling Championships’ elite individual time trials twice, in 2011 and 2013.
Daryl Impey on Drug-Free Cycling
During an interview in July last year Impey discussed doping and how cycling, as an international sport, had to overcome the then-current doping scandal involving American Lance Armstrong. Armstrong was seven-times winner of the Tour de France prior to his disqualification from the sport after he was found to have taken performance-enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career.
In the interview with South African television station eNCA Impey said that the sport had taken “a big knock,” especially when Lance Armstrong “went down.” He said he was still struggling to find sponsors himself. “It’s unfortunate that we are the guys who are paying the price for what these guys did in the past. They’ve made their money and gone their separate ways and we are the guys taking the hit for it.”
He said that a lot of good young cyclists were struggling to get pro contracts because there were no teams and people had generally lost faith in the sport. After Chris Froome of Britain won last year, he said he believed that a lot of faith had been restored in cycling. Defending the sport, and insisting it was clean, Daryl Impey said he believed more people were beginning to realize the potential it offered and what could be achieved with hard work. But this year he has taken a different hit and he will not be part of the ORICA GreenEDGE team when the Tour de France 2014 starts on Saturday. His next challenge is, as he puts it, to prove his innocence.
By Penny Swift