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Expert on doping who testified on behalf of Lance Armstrong is banned from cycling ... for doping

John Gleaves, who was a member of a WADA working group, failed test at US Masters Track Championships

An expert on doping in sport who has sat on a working group of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and acted as an expert witness for Lance Armstrong as he fought charges of misuse of federal funds has been banned from cycling for four years after testing positive for several banned substances at the US Masters Track Championships last year.

In a statement, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said that John Gleaves, from Fullerton, California, had accepted a four-year suspension for an anti-doping rule violation. USADA said:

Gleaves, 36, tested positive for oxandrolone metabolites 17α-Hydroxymethyl-17β-methyl-18-nor-2-oxa-5α-androst-13-en-3-one and 17β-Hydroxymethyl-17α-methyl-18-nor-2-oxa-5α-androst-13-en-3-one, as well as clomiphene and its metabolite 4-hydroxyclomiphene, as the result of a urine sample collected in-competition at the Masters Track National Championships on August 31, 2019.

Oxandrolone is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and clomiphene is a Specified Substance in the class of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators. Both substances are prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the International Cycling Union Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

His ban has been backdated to August 31, 2019, the date he provided his positive sample and has been disqualified from competitive results obtained on and subsequent to that date, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

According to Cycling Tips, Gleaves was a defence witness for Armstrong in the whistleblower case originally brought by Floyd Landis and subsequently joined by the Department of Justice alleging misuse of federal funds through using sponsorship money from the US Postal Service to finance the team’s doping operation.

He reportedly gave evidence as to how widespread doping was in cycling at the time Armstrong was racing.

Armstrong potentially faced having to pay up to $1oo million but eventually settled the case for $5 million.

Gleaves’ page at the Department of Kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton, where he is an assistant professor, is currently returning a 404 not found error message, while his personal website is down for maintenance.

Helpfully, his entry for the International Network of Doping Research on a webpage hosted by the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University in Denmark is still live at the time of writing. It says:

Dr. Gleaves specializes in the philosophy and history of sport with particular emphasis on the study of performance-enhancing drugs and doping in sport including its ethical, historical, legal and scientific perspectives. Dr. Gleaves’ research interests also include the cultural study of areas related to doping and the medicialization and scientization of sport and physical culture. This also includes cultural discourse about doping as well as normative policies designed to reflect the nature of sport.

Concluding a blog post published on the Danish university’s website shortly after Armstrong was banned from sport for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France victories in 2012, Gleaves wrote:

I am not apologizing for Armstrong nor do I condone cheating. But if we want to take away Armstrong's victories, we must admit that no one can honestly call themselves the winner of the seven Tour de France wins Armstrong vacates. Even if one of those individuals competed dope-free, the chances are high that one or more of their teammates doped. Does that mean we erase the 1999 through 2005 Tour's as if the never happened? No. Rather we should leave Armstrong with his titles, point out the institutional flaws that permitted a culture of rule breaking, and work towards creating fair and enjoyable sport for all parties.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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