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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Mark French's media statement, June 23, 2004

The suspended Australian track cyclist, Mark French, a four-time junior world champion, today issued a statement in relation to the doping matter that has engulfed Australian cycling since last Friday, when Senator John Faulkner raised some of the rider's allegations - made in-camera to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - in the Australian Parliament.

I have been a competitive cyclist since the age of 15 years and, inspired by the track cycling at the Sydney Olympics, I decided to dedicate myself to the goal of one day representing Australia at an Olympic Games.

In late 2002, I was awarded an AIS scholarship to the Del Monte facility in South Australaia. I was 18 years of age at the time.

Before I moved to the AIS Del Monte, I had never injected any substance into my body.

I have never deliberately used a prohibited substance and I believe that the substances that I have used (vitamins and a product called "Testicomp") are neither performance enhancing nor harmful.

Soon after moving to AIS Del Monte I discovered a culture among athletes to inject vitamins and supplements as part of a regime of maintaining their health in the course of extremely rigorous training.

I had approached coaching staff for assistance in coping with the demands of training on my health but I was told the medical officer would not be in favour of vitamin injections.

From February 2003, anther cyclist began injecting me with vitamins (B and C) and later on, Testicomp, which I was told was a homeopathic vitamin supplement which was harmless and legal. (Testicomp can be purchased as pharmacies overseas, over the counter and without any prescription).

I did not inject myself because I had a phobia about needles and could not do so for a number of months. Initially, another cyclist administered those injections for me.

I agreed to being injected with vitamins and supplements because I was having trouble maintaining good health under the heavy training regime as the AIS and as a result of advice from another cyclist.

While at the AIS from late May, early June 2003 onwards, I injected what I understood at the time were legal substances, in my room, together with other cyclists. We disposed of the empty vials and syringes in a waste-bucket which I kept in my room.

The information I had about injection of vitamins and Testicomp came from the other cyclists at Del Monte and I accepted without question what I was told about these substances, that they were harmless and legal.

I looked up to these other cyclists. Some of who were many years my senior, as my role models. I had no reason to feel that I was being misled in any way. I felt privileged to be training and living with the, and I wanted to learn from them to become an elite international cyclist like them.

I have always from the outset admitted to using Testicomp, a product I was told is a vitamin supplement. Testicomp is a homeopathic preparation which according to its label contains in percentage terms 0.00000000000001% of cortisone acetate - a glucocorticosteroid. Glucocorticosteroids, under the Cycling Australia anti-doping Policy, are treated as a "soft" substance. (Incidentally, the human body, each day, naturally produces 20 billion times the amount of cortisone acetate, than that which is contained in one ampoule of Testicomp).

Laboratory tests cannot detect the presence of a glucocorticosteroid in Testicomp because the level of concentration is so low that it is incapable of being detected.

I had no knowledge of the used unlabelled vials, which contained traces of what was later established to be equine growth hormone ("eGH"), being in my room, (or being in the waste-bucket), until after the waste-bucket containing these vials and other waste material was found by the cleaners, after I had left my room at the AIS Del Monte.

I do not know who the eGH vials belonged to or when they were placed in the room I had previously occupied.

I have never used any growth hormones of any description or any other illegal substance. I have never purchased or obtained eGH and would not know who to go about doing so. (It is important to note that I was cleared by the CAS arbitrator, of the charge brought against me by Cycling Australia, that I "used" eGH).

I have been regularly drug-tested over the last 2 years along with all of the other members of the AIS track sprint cycling team and I have never failed a drug test.

From the very outset in December 2003, I have co-operated with the Australian Sports Commission and Cycling Australian in their investigations and have always maintained that there were others who were also injecting and disposing of their waste in the bucket found in my room at the AIS Del Monte, although I did not specifically name the other athletes during these early investigations.

In both the preliminary and the independent investigations conducted by the AIS in December 2003 and January 2004, I maintained (as stated above) that there were Cycling Australia licensed riders who disposed of their waste in the waste bucket I kept in my room and I have at all times made truthful statements regarding these matters.

Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission have been aware of the names of the "other" cyclists who disposed of their waste into the bucket since late May 2004, when I gave my Statement to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, shortly before the hearing.

There was sufficient information and evidence in December 2003 for Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission to have properly further investigated the "other" cyclists, at that time.

I have instructed my Lawyers to lodge an appeal against the CAS Award and hope to clear my name so that I may in the future be able to realize my ambition to represent Australia at the Olympics. I expect my appeal will be lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport tomorrow.

Finally, as already stated by my lawyers, I intend to fully co-operate with any further inquiry or investigation in these matters.

I do not intend to make any further statements to the media concerning these matters until my appeal has been determined by the Court of Arbitration for sport.

Cyclingnews coverage of the French affair

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)