You do not want to be in Tom Zirbel’s cycling shoes today.
On his blog, Zirbel announced his B-sample came back from the WADA accredited lab at the University of Utah testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA. Positive A plus positive B equals a two year non-cycling vacation.
“As expected (though hope plays funny games with your mind), the ‘B’ sample of my urine has come back confirming the presence of an exogenous anabolic in my system from the Aug. 29, 2009 test,” wrote Zirbel.
“I expect USADA to come back with a two-year sanction any day now but I’m tired of waiting for them so I decided to let everyone know what’s going on.”
The 31 year old Zirbel is expected to mount a defense based on supplement contamination. The former Bissel and almost-Garmin rider insists he did not knowingly take a banned substance.
Zibel was poised for a major career boost after a fourth overall behind David Zabriskie in the Tour of Missouri and another fourth in the time trial at the world championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Again, you wouldn’t want to be in his cycling shoes because proving contamination means plenty of research and legwork. It’s needle in a haystack, find the taint in the supplement.
“There will probably be a hearing in a few months where I will proclaim my innocence,” he wrote. “We all know the drill! How many times have we been through this with this sport? I even secured one of those lawyer fellas to help me through this. We are still attempting to figure out how this happened and I’m optimistic that we’ll have an answer in time for the hearing.”
That lawyer fella better be damn smart — smarter than the legal consul for Tyler Hamilton and Kenny Williams — two other American riders nailed for the steroid DHEA. It’s going to be a long, hard, expensive slog with little chance of vindication.
While awaiting his B-sample results, Zibel had written, “Life is too full of OTHER cool and exciting things that I can dive into head first,” said Zirbel. “It’s also far too short to dwell in the past and be miserable.”
We hope that’s true, and maybe that high school science teacher job he talked about is available. Unfortunately, Twisted Spoke keeps thinking about the words of Joe Papp, himself a rider whose career ended after a doping violation. Joe summed it up this way: “his world is going to implode.”