Cape Town - Kevin Evans, who retired from professional mountain biking last year, said the reports of anomalies found in his Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) results were due to "life-threatening circumstances and decisions doctors made to save his life".
On Monday the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) charged Evans with doping after identifying serious irregularities in his biological blood passport results.
Evans, who represented South Africa at the mountain bike World Championships each year from 2003-2012, either in the Marathon or Cross Country discipline, also won the South African National Marathon Series title for six consecutive years and contested 10 Cape Epics, finishing on the final overall podium four times.
Evans, 37, has been banned from the sport for four years as of March 4, 2015, but has indicated that he has retired from professional cycling.
Evans issued a statement on Monday, following the SAIDS investigation, in which he responded to the reports anomalies found in his biological passport between 2014 and 2015.
Evans was diagnosed with empyema and had repeated episodes of intra-abdominal sepsis due to an appendectomy performed at the end of 2010.
In October 2012 he had to undergo another operation to drain and remove an abscess in his abdomen, followed by a second appendectomy and further abdominal surgery again in December.
Evans underwent a similar procedure to drain and remove another abscess, as well as an internal drain for four weeks in February 2013.
In September 2013 he had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy surgery due to an abscess bursting through his diaphragm into the lung, resulting in ten days in Intensive Care (ICU) with a cardio thoracic surgeon.
Between the 13th and 19th September, he received two blood transfusions in ICU in order to keep him alive. It was the professional opinion of three surgeons that Evans needed to receive Ozone therapy as an alternative treatment to help his immune system cope with the anti-biotics and medication, and to ensure a speedy recovery, and thus save his life.
Ozone therapy is not specifically mentioned in the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code), but is considered doping as it increases the body’s ability to transport more oxygen.
“As part of the biological passport program, which I’ve been a part of since 2010, I was subjected to testing a mere two weeks out of ICU, post transfusions, and hence the huge discrepancy,” said Evans.
“I followed up with Ozone treatment to help my body recover, whilst still on the ABP. I was desperate to get my health back.”
Evans was treated in hospital for his medical condition, as recommended by his doctors to improve his health, and not for the reason of enhancing his performance as a cyclist.
As Ozone therapy may unnaturally increase the body’s ability to transport more oxygen, it therefore directly affected Evans’ ABP results.
“I underwent Ozone therapy, having applied for a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) but it was denied. I went ahead with the treatments as prescribed by my surgeons to get my health back, certainly not with an intention to gain an advantage whilst competing,” said Evans. “If I had to take the decision to use the Ozone treatment to save my life again, I would do it again without hesitation. Being alive and healthy for my family was my priority, not to cheat.”
“Having retired last year officially in May, I’m naturally disappointed that this has to come out subsequently, but I’m happy to take my sanction and move on. I have no desire or will to return to professional cycling, merely to focus on my business and giving back to the sport that has given me so much”.