Cycling News

Are the top triathletes doping? And, if they are, is there any hope of catching them?

Portuguese directeur sportif receives 25-year ban for doping

Prior to last year, you had to go back almost 20 years for a case when one of triathlon’s top stars was caught in a doping scandal. While there have been numerous cases of athletes who have tested positive, you have to go back to Nina Kraft, who was first across the line at the 2004 Ironman World Championship, but would test positive after the race for EPO. In 2023, though, we had two doping scandals – one involving a positive test and another involving a high-profile investigation.

Collin Chartier

In April, 2023 we learned that American Collin Chartier, who, after years of reasonable, but not earth shattering results, burst into the top echelons of the sport with a win at Ironman Mont-Tremblant and then, a few weeks later at the prestigious Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) US Open, tested positive for EPO.

In a bizarre interview on the “How they Train” podcast after his positive test was revealed, Chartier said that he believed that the best athletes in the sport were doping.

I really wanted to win this year and beat the best,” Chartier said. “At the end of the day, I don’t believe they’re clean and if I’m going to try to win, there’s no amount of self-belief I can have in myself if I believe the top guys are doping. I think it’s sad that I came to this decision. I have no evidence that the top guys are, it’s just the belief I had and what led me to dope.”

In the same podcast Chartier said that he was confident that the athletes he had at times trained with – Kristian Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Lionel Sanders (all arguably amongst the best in the world) – weren’t doping.

World champion admits to being investigated

Chartier’s case certainly created lots of controversy in the sport, but a series of social media posts from the winner of the 2023 Ironman World Championship in Nice, Sam Laidlow, took things to a new level. In this case there was no positive test, just posts from the Frenchman lashing out at “frustrated humans (who) have accused me of cheating the sport.”

Laidlow also said that an investigation had been started by the International Testing Agency (ITA) based on accusations from individuals and athletes who he said have “accused me several times with no evidence.”

Normally such investigations would remain anonymous. When we reached out to the ITA, they wouldn’t comment on Laidlow’s post, but were able to “confirm that the ITA receives on a regular basis through its confidential…

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