Capital cyclist Bruce Croall insists that the fallout from a failed drugs test is now behind him and his focus is firmly on this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Croall was handed a six month suspension, backdated to the time of the test, meaning that his exclusion from competition expired in April and allows him to concentrate on racing in Glasgow.
The City of Edinburgh rider was cleared of seeking to enhance his performance but was held responsible for the drug Oxilofrine being found in his system following tests after each of his two gold medal winning performances at the World Masters Championships in Manchester last October.
The case was referred to Sport Resolutions Dispute Service and judged by a panel comprising sports and legal experts. Croall was accompanied by a solicitor and provided evidence to support his claims that the failed test had been the result of a contaminated energy drink.
In its ruling, the organisation cleared the 35-year-old of deliberately seeking to enhance his performance and pointed out that he had in fact disclosed on a doping control form that he was taking the supplement. However, it was critical of the rider’s attempts to establish the safety of the drink.
“We find that both doping violations have been proved. We find that Oxilofrine must have been present in the supplement that Mr Croall admittedly took (and declared on the Doping Control forms), namely, Dorian Yates Nox Pump,” said the ruling panel in a statement.
“Although we are prepared to deal with this case under Article 295 on the basis of the parties’ joint submission that Mr Croall did not intend to enhance his performance by taking that particular substance, we do consider that he was at a significant degree of fault.”
The rider explained his decision to use the product, an energy drink bought in sachets and sold in a specialist shop in Edinburgh, instead of better-known brands, saying: “I used to get a stitch from using the others so I tried this and I didn’t have the problems with the stitch. I generally used it when I was going to the gym after work.”
He bought subsequent batches on the internet and believes he took all reasonable precautions to ensure the product did not contain any illegal substances. “I believed I did all the relevant checks I could have done. I had also used it before and been tested, and the tests were clear,” he added.
When informed of the failed test, Croall paid for an independent examination of the batch of the product and it was found to contain the banned substance. The panel of experts acknowledged Croall’s efforts to prove his innocence and accepted that the drink was contaminated, but handed him a six month ban starting on the date of the first failed test, October 9.
“I didn’t want any ban because I didn’t think I did anything wrong. I checked all of the ingredients and had been tested before and it always come back clear so I assumed it was OK to use,” he added.
He was grateful for the support of the governing body Scottish Cycling and national coach Gary Coltman, who allowed him to continue to attend squad training sessions, although Croall admits that it was difficult to maintain his focus in the months leading up to his hearing.
Meanwhile, Croall continues to combine his work at Southside Property Management in the Capital with training at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. He has been chastened by the experience but is now looking forward to competing in Glasgow, where he is targeting a place in the team sprint and the kilometre time trial. And with a weight lifted from his shoulders, he has been making impressive progress.
He recently posted a personal best for the kilometre and is now eagerly awaiting the imminent team announcement to learn whether his nightmare will end on a positive note. “Now I just want to compete at the Commonwealth Games and achieve my career ambition,” he summed up.