A Gran Fondo Daily News investigation has discovered that three out of the top four riders in the 2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championship Men’s 45-49 year-old road race have previously been found guilty of doping activities – and two are former professional riders.

Ex-doper Igor Kopse, 48, of Slovenia, who we already wrote a lengthy doping news article about, won the Men’s 45-49 year-old gran fondo in Trento, Italy in September. We have since uncovered two other top riders in that same race who have extensive doping backgrounds.

Third place and UCI bronze medal recipient Loic Herbreteau, 46, is a former professional rider and French amateur champion who was convicted of “inciting doping” in January 2022 by a French Criminal Court alongside his partner-in-crime “Dr. Mabus” (a.k.a. Bernard Sainz), France’s notorious doping doctor. According to court documents, Herbreteau was a go-between man, introducing and connecting competitive cyclists to Dr. Mabuse. Herbreteau received a three-month suspended prison sentence and was fined €2,000 for his involvement in doping, but was not banned from the sport by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) or the UCI.

Finishing in fourth place just off the podium was Belgian Dave Bruylandts, 46, a former top professional cyclist who in 2004 was found guilty of EPO doping and banned from the sport for 18 months. Just days before his ban was set to expire Belgian police raided and searched his house for evidence of doping. He was never charged with a crime related to the raid, but his plans to resume professional racing quickly fell apart when the Unibet.com team terminated his contract. Prior to his EPO ban, he was also released in 2000 by his Farm Frites team in the middle of a stage race when he returned an unbelievably high (53%) hematocrit test result. The UCI and national anti-doping agencies state that hematocrit test results over 50% are strongly correlated with banned doping activities, primarily EPO use.

So far, their is no indication Kopse, Herbreteau or Bruylandts have broken any current anti-doping rules. Rather, the UCI has decided to turn a blind eye to amateur riders and former professionals who have cheated, damaged the image and integrity of the sport, and been found guilty of flagrantly violating anti-doping rules once (or twice), granting them yet another chance to Live The Dream and chase world championship rainbow jerseys.

Photos: UCI WCT, Majid Bouzzit, WeilerVerhall, Gran Fondo World Championships Trento