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Phil Zajicek admits doping and cover-up, suspended for life

  • By Neal Rogers
  • Published Jun. 10, 2011
  • Updated Jun. 10, 2011 at 2:49 PM EDT

Zajicek outsprinted Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer to win the final stage of the 2009 Tour of the Gila. At the time he said it was his biggest career victory; it is among the results that will now be negated. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | cbgphoto.com

Zajicek’s first doping violation occured at the 2004 Tour of Qinghai Lake, in China, which he won. His victory was disqualified, however, when he tested above the allowed limit for cathine (norpseudoephedrine). Cathine is a metabolite of pseudoephedrine but its presence is prohibited above a concentration in urine of 5mcg/ml. At the time Zajicek issued a statement admitting that he had been taking Sudafed, which contains pseudoephedrine “in a normal adult dose to combat occasional allergies.”

Zajicek was charged with a non-analytical doping violation in 2010, just prior to the U.S. pro road championships. However he was acquitted after an arbitration hearing in Denver and was allowed to race. At the time, anti-doping officials confirmed the arbitration meeting had taken place but did not confirm that Zajicek was the rider.

The non-analytical violation stems from dealings with former rider Joe Papp, who in February 2010 pleaded guilty in a Pennsylvania federal court to conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone and recombinant erythropoietin, that he had imported from a Chinese company. Other athletes, including cyclists, have been sanctioned for doping violations as a result of having conspired with Papp. Zajicek’s was the first case to go to a hearing.

Since he turned pro with Mercury in 2000 at the age of 20, Zajicek had been viewed as one of the most talented riders in the U.S. His career highlights include an overall win at the 2007 Cascade Cycling Classic and a mountain stage win at the 2009 Tour of the Gila ahead of Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, where he finished third overall. Zajicek was the top American non-ProTour rider at the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, finishing 10th overall.

Zajicek was originally slated to spend the 2011 season racing in Europe on the Pegasus Sports team run by Fly V Australia team boss Chris White.

When that team was denied WorldTour and Pro Continental status, however, Zajicek was cut adrift.

He has raced this year for the amateur team Monster Media, winning the March 20 Tucson Bicycle Classic and finishing 13th overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Related: USADA press release on Zajicek

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Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers is editor in chief of Velo magazine and VeloNews.com. An interest in all things rock 'n' roll led him into music journalism while attending UC Santa Cruz, on the central coast of California. After several post-grad years spent waiting tables, surfing, and mountain biking, he moved to San Francisco, working as a bike messenger, and at a software startup. He moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2001, taking an editorial internship at VeloNews. He never left. When not traveling the world covering races, he can be found riding his bike, skiing, or attending a concert.

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