GT + Martin Maes

INTERVIEWED

Martin Maes Reflects

As you’ve probably read in the latest news, GT Factory racer Martin Maes was placed on the UCI’s suspended rider’s list. Martin tested positive for a banned substance that was prescribed to him to treat an aggressive infection in his leg that began with a nasty laceration on a muddy section of trail during his last race.

After the dust had settled and the news was published, we wanted to reach out to Martin with some questions about the suspension, his feelings on the matter and where he thinks the future of EWS racing will be going. We were happy to hear Martin is making the best of an unfortunate situation and using the experience to further motivate him to follow up on his victory at Madeira.

TLW: So, now that the word has been made public and you’ve had some time to dwell on the circumstances, how are you feeling?
Martin Maes: The team and myself are staying extremely positive. It’s a bit frustrating especially after such a great start to the season. We will be back stronger, I’m 100% sure.

TLW: What is the hardest part of this suspension for you to handle?
MM: All the hard work that I’ve been putting in during the off season, alongside with GT Factory Racing Team. It takes a lot of commitments to get to the level we were in.

TLW: It’s pretty apparent you had a legitimate medical reason for failing the test, so we’re certain your fans still have your back, which we assume as a racer is something you are concerned with? As a proponent of clean racing, having Dr’s on your side, writing you letters must make it even more frustrating. How important do you believe testing and doping enforcement is to racers competing at your level? 
MM: It’s been so cool having all the fans, sponsors and racers having my back. Doctor Tom Jerram has been there since the first minute as well to explain himself and the reasons why he prescribed the antibiotics & Probenecid. He’s been a huge help along the process and he saved my leg, most importantly.

TLW: Although the circumstances are unfortunate, is there anything you are looking forward to during your break? What lemonade are you making out of these lemons?
MM: I’m not going to have a break. I’m going to put the frustration into my training and I will learn from it, not only my team and myself, but I think all of the racers in the future.

TLW: What are you going to miss most during this break? 
MM: I’m a huge fan of my sport, I love racing bikes and to be the best out there. Luckily I’m not out for too many races.

TLW: Due to the nature of our sports, it seems highly likely that other riders may very well find themselves battling an infection or injury during a race. Has this situation taught you any lessons or advice that you could give to other athletes who may encounter a similar situation? 
MM: Absolutely. We have all learned from it and hopefully this will never happen again in our sport.

TLW: What is your favorite EWS event of the year and why?
MM: Whistler and Finale Ligure, Italy. They are both my favorite places. Unfortunately I won’t be in Whistler racing as I’ll still be suspended by then.

TLW: Having been a part of the EWS series for several years now, how has the evolution of such a young series been over the years?
MM: Not so many changes. More regulations into the tracks mainly, but that’s pretty much it.

TLW: Where do you see enduro racing and EWS in 5 years?
MM: Even more professional and I hope one day they will link all disciplines at the same location and make it even more exiting.

TLW: Do you have any non-racing projects in the works that you’re excited about?
MM: It’s all secrets right now! ;-)

GT + Martin Maes

PUBLIC STATEMENT

On May 21, 2019, GT Factory Racing athlete Martin Maes was notified by the Cycling Anti-doping Federation (CADF) of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for a prohibited substance.

There was a high level of Probenecid in his test samples from EWS Round 1 in New Zealand and EWS Round 2 in Tasmania in March 2019. Probenecid is on the UCI’s List of Prohibited Substances and Methods. The Probenecid and a related antibiotic were prescribed by an official race doctor at the New Zealand Enduro to help treat a serious infection in Martin’s leg.

According to the official race doctor:
“Martin sustained a lower leg laceration which developed a serious infection while racing the New Zealand Enduro (March 8-10, 2019). The infection was worsening despite standard doses of antibiotics, and it had the potential to become life threatening. The doctors at the New Zealand Enduro elected to add Probenecid, which is commonly used to boost blood levels of penicillin-type antibiotics, and it was effective in treating Martin’s infection. It is a common part of all of our practices to use this medicine in the setting of serious infection.

“At the time, neither the volunteer medical team nor Martin considered that Probenecid would be on the banned substance list. It has no performance enhancing effects, and in fact, Martin’s performance was likely to have been impaired in the weeks following due to the severity of the infection.” – Dr. Tom Jerram MBChB (Hons) FACEM Emergency Physician and Volunteer Medical Director of the New Zealand Enduro. To read the full version of Dr. Jarrem’s statement, see the statement below.

On June 1, 2019, Martin received a denial for his Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) request. While the CADF TUE committee recognized the Probenecid was purely for medical reasons and that it would not have provided additional enhancement to Martin’s performance, the TUE was still not approved.

GT Factory Racing fully supports Martin Maes in this situation due to the understanding that neither he, nor the team, took any actions to intentionally violate anti-doping rules or regulations. On the contrary, Martin inquired with the official race doctors if the prescriptions they had given him were acceptable for use by a UCI athlete and the race doctors were acting within their clinical responsibility to treat a potentially life-threatening infection in Martin’s leg.

GT Factory Racing is committed to creating and fostering an environment where riders can perform to the best of their ability, within all rules and regulations mandated by the governing body of the sport. GT invests in teams and athletes because of the love of the sport, and racing is a way to connect with their passionate fan base.

Each GT team and rider understands that support comes with strict requirements regarding the rules and regulations that govern the sport. It is for this reason that Martin will accept the UCI’s ruling.

“I’m speechless at the moment. My entire life has been dedicated to cycling and racing since 2013. I’ve trained so hard to make my dreams come true. There was an emergency to treat an infected wound, and we did not double-check the prescription from the doctors. This is our sole mistake. Now, it’s time to face the situation, train harder than ever, and get back very soon to convert that frustration into pleasure and performance on my bike.”

The UCI complies with a set of strict rules and regulations, but also fully acknowledged the circumstances and that this was not a deliberate violation of any antidoping rules. As a result, Martin will be prohibited from racing for a period of ninety days. He will be disqualified from rounds 1 and 2 of the EWS and will be required to pay a fine of 2,500CHF. However, his win and results from EWS Madeira will not be affected as he returned a negative test result after going through doping controls at this event.

Martin is and will remain an advocate for clean and fair racing. He will return to the season stronger than before. Meanwhile, he’ll stand next to his teammates and will fully support them during the next Enduro World Series’ events.

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