Another prominent U.S. masters racer has tested positive for a banned substance and accepted a sanction from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Nicholas Brandt-Sorensen (Velosport), the 2011 national road champion for men 30-34, has informed VeloNews in a fax that he tested positive at nationals in September. Brandt-Sorensen also confirmed via phone that he had accepted the sanction.
“I regret to inform the cycling community that I have accepted a provisional suspension from USADA for a medical control sample taken after USA Cycling Masters National Road Race,” read the letter. “The USADA Urine Sample A showed a trace amount of a prohibited substance, which is on the WADA list of banned substances for 2011.”
USADA has not published news of Brandt-Sorensen’s positive test. In the letter, Brandt-Sorensen, 31, did not admit to knowingly consuming a banned substance and apologized to his team and the greater cycling community.
“As an athlete, I must solely accept full responsibility for anything I ingest knowingly or unknowingly. I sincerely apologize for disappointing my team. I am sorry for letting down the sport of cycling, of which has been an integral part of my life over the past 15 years.”
When contacted Tuesday, Brandt told VeloNews that he was not completely familiar with the USADA procedures in a case like his and that “hopes it’s a mistake.”
When asked about the substance for which he tested positive, Brandt said he needed to check the paperwork and is “not going to comment on that (the substance).”
“Hopefully they’re testing the B sample now after I accepted the provisional suspension,” he said. “It’s a situation that I’ve accepted and I went through that last week. I’m a masters racer and I don’t really have a lucrative career in racing. I’ve accepted it … There’s rules for the sport and we have to follow them.”
If the B sample confirms the initial test, Brandt-Sorensen’s sanction will include time served under the provisional suspension.
Brandt-Sorensen’s Velosport team announced late Tuesday morning that it had suspended him, pending the outcome of the case. In a release, the Orange County, California-based squad stated that each rider is responsible for his or her training and nutrition and receives no support from the team in this regard.
“Velosport supports clean cycling and will enforce a zero-tolerance policy with regards to doping in sport,” read a statement from the team. “The members, management, and sponsors of the club wholeheartedly support the efforts of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and its affiliated organizations. Velosport will immediately sever all ties with any member, sponsor, or supporter who is found to be engaging in the use of any prohibited substances or prohibited methods pursuant to the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the International Cycling Union (UCI), or World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.”
Brandt-Sorensen would be the second consecutive men’s 30-34 road champion to lose his title to a doping suspension. Andrew Crater vacated his championship in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Eric Marcotte (SKLZ-Pista Palace) was runner-up to Brandt-Sorensen in the nationals road race in Bend, Oregon, and would inherit the title if USA Cycling vacates Brandt-Sorensen’s result.
Brandt-Sorensen is the latest in a run of masters doping cases in the last year. Most recently, Roger Hernandez, 45, of Miami, Florida, accepted a two-year suspension on October 6 after he refused a test at masters track nationals in July. Joshua Webster, 38, of San Dimas, California, tested positive for a banned stimulant at the Tulsa Tough in June and accepted a two-year sanction in July.
As reported by VeloNews in September 2010, USADA last year opened more than two dozen cases against masters racers as a result of their dealings with Joe Papp, the former elite road racer who has admitted to supplying performance enhancing drugs to U.S. riders via an online store. Papp’s testimony led to the lifetime suspension of former pro Phil Zajicek earlier this year. According to sources, Papp’s testimony also contributed to the 2010 sanction of Boulder-based masters rider Chuck Coyle. According to L’Equipe, email evidence also suggests that Papp provided doping products to French champion Jeannie Longo’s husband; Papp has suggested he may be called as a witness in that investigation.
VeloNews could not confirm whether Brandt-Sorensen’s case was related to Papp’s work with USADA, but Papp did write the following on Twitter last week: “SoCal masters rider alleged to have returned positive (A)-sample after winning national championship and accepted provisional suspension…”
While he has been hesitant to speak to the media in light of his upcoming sentencing for a February 2010 guilty plea on two counts of conspiracy to distribute Human Growth Hormone and Erythropoietin (EPO), Papp does have a history of speaking out on Twitter regarding cases in which he has allegedly been involved.
Most infamously, Papp wrote the following on Twitter following the second stage of the 2010 Tour of Utah: “Jonathan Mccarty, don’t worry, you were really 5th today in Utah. Or at least you will be.”
McCarty initially finished sixth atop Mount Nebo, but moved to fifth when Zajicek accepted his lifetime ban. Initial disciplinary hearings in Zajicek’s case opened just weeks after the Tour of Utah’s conclusion.