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Olympic Mountain Bike Silver Medalist Tests Positive for Doping

mathias FlückigerSwitzerland's Mathias Flückiger wins the Men's Cross Country Olympic Competition of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Austria on June 12; (photo/AFP via Getty Images)
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On top of his Olympic hardware at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, the Swiss cyclist had also become a fixture on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) MTB podium.

Swiss anti-doping officials provisionally suspended Mathias Flückiger after the successful cyclist tested positive for a growth hormone substance called Zeranol. Flückiger’s suspension comes just ahead of today’s UCI European MTB World Championships. It results from a test sample collected on June 5.

Swiss Cycling told the Associated Press it first learned of the sanctions against the 33-year-old on Thursday. Swiss Sport Integrity, a governing agency on sports doping in the country, said in a brief statement that it was investigating Flückiger’s case and could not divulge details until it concluded its inquiry.

Zeranol is an endocrine disruptor, widely used as a growth promoter in livestock, per the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The organization cited its “presumed anabolic effects” in humans as the main reason it appears on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. According to the agency, doping tests have “routinely” screened for the drug for over 15 years.

Flückiger would have been a favorite to podium at today’s European MTB World Championship short track cross-country race. He’s currently in second place in a tight race at the top of the UCI World Cup standings in the category.

The news arrives on the heels of a rough July for Flückiger. He became a target on internet comment threads after many fans blamed him for an off-camera crash with fellow countryman Nino Schurter on his home circuit at the World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on July 10. Then shortly after that, he tested positive for COVID-19.

Flückiger did win the next World Cup short track race in Vallnord, Andorra. He told Canada’s Cycling Magazine the win “showed me that I am stronger than ever. It showed me that my joy as a professional biker is undiminished and that I continue to go my own way together with my team and those around me. That includes winning, but it also includes losing.”

Swiss Cycling had issued no comment on Flückiger’s status as of this writing.

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