On 14 April 2023 Tour de France stage winner and convicted EPO (Erythropoietin) user Jarlinson Pantano of Colombia finished serving a 4-year doping ban, and then quickly announced he will return to racing this year with the Colombia based EPM-Scott team.

But prior to finishing his 4-year period of ineligibility, Pantano may have violated the terms of his International Cycling Union (UCI) ban after he hosted an amateur gran fondo race in Colombia for close to 1000 riders.

Five months earlier on 23 October Jarlinson Pantano, his wife Yesenia Narváez and Fundación Jarlinson Pantano held Gran Fondo La Ruta Pantano. It was a chance for amateurs to compete for cash prizes alongside cycling greats Egan Bernal, Sergio Higuita and Sergio Luis Henao. The event received extensive support from the Mayor’s Office in Cali and by the Secretary of Sport, Carlos Diago, who is the government official responsible for organizing world and national class athletic events in Colombia, like the 2021 Junior Pan American Games, 2022 UCI Track Nations Cup and next year’s UCI Junior Track World Championships.

According to 90 Minutos Noticiero, Governor Clara Luz Roldán and the Secretary of Sport gave the go-ahead for the competition. Yesenia Narváez also said, “We have had the support of the Mayor’s Office of Cali, the Secretariats of Tourism and the different sponsors.”

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code – Article 10.14 states a banned athlete’s status during a period of Ineligibility prohibits participation as follows:

“No Athlete or other Person who has been declared Ineligible or is subject to a Provisional Suspension may, during a period of Ineligibility or Provisional Suspension, participate in any capacity in a Competition or activity (other than authorized anti-doping Education or rehabilitation programs) authorized or organized by any Signatory, Signatory’s member organization, or a club or other member organization of a Signatory’s member organization, or in Competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international- or national-level Event organization or any elite or national-level sporting activity funded by a governmental agency.”

It further clarifies that Ineligible Athletes cannot participate in a training camp, exhibition or practice organized by their National Federation or a club which is a member of that National Federation or which is funded by a governmental agency. Further, an Ineligible Athlete may not compete in a non-Signatory professional league (e.g., the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, etc.), Events organized by a non-Signatory International Event organization or a non-Signatory national-level Event organization.

The UCI has not yet commented on whether Pantono’s actions violated the terms of his four-year doping ban. Nonetheless, allowing an ex-pro to host an amateur cycling race while banned for using EPO seems to go against the overarching goal – prohibit dopers from participating in the sport in any capacity while banned.

Photo Credit: B.Lennon/Getty

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