George and his Nedbank 360Life teammate, Kevin Evans won the 2012 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in their home country, South Africa last month ( 14-20 October). They competed in the two-rider team category, winning four stages and the overall title.
Their Stage 2 victory earned them R100 000 (US $12 500) due to the extreme difficulty of the stage, a new introduction to the event backed by additional funding from new sponsor Bridge, a financial solutions company.
According to Cycling South Africa, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport recorded George’s positive test for EPO on 29 August 2012.
“When I heard the news I had the same feeling as if I’d just been told a family member had died,” said Henco Rademeyer of Dryland Events, the organisers of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek.
“Utter shock followed by disappointment and then anger. As organisers of a number of high profile events, we do not condone doping or any form of cheating and are pleased to see success in the fight against this from the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport.
“We have consulted with the relevant staff at Bridge, our new title sponsor, who will make their own statement on this matter and are grateful for their continued support. We will be guided by Cycling South Africa in terms of the protocol in a case such as this, but are obviously preparing to review all results in the Open Men’s division at this year’s event.
“This will naturally include the reallocation of prizemoney too. Kevin and David earned a total of R125 000 (US $15 625) during this year’s race. Nedbank 360Life, their team sponsors, have been very supportive of this matter. In fact they’ve been a great supporter of this race and the local community that hosts the event. This incident has a wider-reaching impact that many may realise, which is incredibly sad,” added Rademeyer.
Meanwhile, the event’s title and headline sponsors have voiced their continued support for the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek despite the doping incident.
“This has been a blow to the cycling industry and extremely unfortunate to the reputation of cycling. However, Bridge’s commitment as the main sponsor, as well as to the race communities, continues with no doubt. The Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek has grown significantly this year and we’re looking forward to being part of this amazing mountain bike tour for the next few years to come,” said Johan van Wyk, Head: Marketing, Bridge.
“Our sponsorship of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek focuses on the communities that host the event and the participants that do the race for the enjoyment of mountain biking. As a result, we have no hesitation in continuing our support of the event,” said Johan Stumf, CEO of Klein Karoo International.
“From a business perspective, we are involved in cycling to benefit the community as a whole. It is very sad that this situation has arisen since cycling events should be seen as healthy and wholesome, hence the natural association with our products. This will not affect our interest in cycling as a sport and the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek as an event," said Kabous Marra of Wilde Fruit Juices.
“Our commitment is to the event itself and the organisers. An incident like this, unfortunate as it is, wouldn’t be something that would sway our support of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek,” said Riaan van den Berg, Scooters Brand Manger of the Taste Holdings Group.
“Once the official process has been completed, we will announce the changes to the results and reallocation of prizemoney,” said Rademeyer.
For more information on the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek, visit www.capepioneer.co.za