The ABSA Cape Epic set the precedent for international mountain-bike stage races by instituting a zero-tolerance policy against doping. Any rider found guilty of doping will be banned for life from the Lesotho Sky. As a result, Croeser is banned from any future participation in the Lesotho Sky.

Rourke Croeser riding the first stage of Lesotho Sky 2016.

Lesotho Sky has been a UCI-accredited event since 2013. From the 2015 race onwards it is a Class 1 MTB stage race. Most participants in the race are amateurs from around the world. They come to experience the unique trails of the mountain-bike kingdom. The UCI status attracts a small field of UCI teams each year, among them Lesotho’s top riders, who gain valuable racing experience and UCI points. Lesotho Sky’s UCI status is an important achievement in support of the development of cycling sport in Lesotho.

Race organiser Darol Howes shared his regret about doping in cycling: “It is no secret that in the sport of cycling riders will do pretty much anything for marginal gains, but these marginal gains are the difference between 1st and 2nd or making a pay check and not. The furious competition in cycling sport and pressure to make ends meet are ultimately what makes one cheat. Because of this competition and pressure athletes put a crazy amount of time, work and effort into getting themselves ready for competition. Unfortunately, doping is a way around this. When athletes cheat they undermine the sport, and everyone who legitimately partakes, watches or supports the sport. It’s unfair to cheat and yes, life is unfair, but sport should not be. The ABSA Cape Epic set a standard with its stance against doping that needs support from the rest of the cycling community, and we at the Lesotho Sky joins them in helping make cycling a drug-free sport. This allows the athletes who truly put in the hard work with integrity get the results they deserve.”

Leading up to this year’s race, we call on all contestants to keep the #mountainbikekingdom clean.