FedGroup and Itec, the two main sponsors of the FedGroup Itec Pro Mountain Biking team, will continue to support team member, Brandon Stewart, who has been notified by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) that a hearing is to be held into doping charges against him.
The sponsors believe that the situation has arisen as a result of flawed processes in the anti-doping system.
FedGroup chief financial officer, Scott Field says that the sponsors did their own internal investigation when Stewart was notified by SAIDS at the end of October 2013 that he had tested positive for testosterone in a random urine test done in the previous July.
“Brandon always kept us fully informed of all the procedures he followed in applying to SAIDS for therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for testosterone treatment recommended by his doctor. He also always attached to each of the control forms for random drug tests that were done on him over a period of several months what he believed to be the authorisation code for a TUE and wrote on each form the information that he had taken testosterone. This was not the behaviour of someone trying to subvert the system.
“Double-checking all the information again in November 2013 in our own internal investigation reinforced our belief that Brandon had never intended or attempted to cheat.
“We stand unambiguously behind the need for South African sport to be drug-free. In that context we fully support the existence of SAIDS. What we’d like to see, however, is an improvement in the way SAIDS carries out its mandate. And, for the sake of South African sport in general, we’d be happy to assist in making that improvement happen.”
The FedGroup Itec Pro Mountain Biking team, Kevin Evans and Neil MacDonald will compete in the Absa Cape Epic at the end of March and are expecting a good finish in the Africa Leaders Jersey Competition.
“We have a strong team,” Field says. “So, our appeal for a better SAIDS system is not based on the prospect of losing ground without Brandon. It’s a moral issue: why penalise an athlete who needs legitimate medical treatment? What Brandon has had to endure does not help catch anyone who is actually cheating with drugs.”
Source: Team Fedgroup-Itec