Yorkshire, Tour de France
Yorkshire, Tour de France. Photo: Leonie B-T

The Tour de France kicked off today in the UK…but unfortunately without South African cyclist Daryl Impey who proudly wore the yellow jersey last year after leading in Stages 6 and 7.

Yorkshire, Tour de France
Tour de France fever in Yorkshire this week. Photo: Leonie B-T

Impey has been excluded from his Orica-GreenEdge team after failing an anti-doping test. As recently as mid-June Impey had been training for the Tour de France and raced in Spain.

He was “distressed” when he was notified a couple of weeks later that Probenecid was found in his test. Probenecid is renowned for being used to mask the use of doping substances such as anabolic drugs.

Impey released the following statement a few days ago:

“Further to the announcement of the Tour de France team and in the interests of full disclosure, I confirm that on 23 June 2014, I was notified by William Newman, the President of Cycling South Africa, about an adverse analytical finding for Probenecid following an in-competition test at the national time trial championships on 6 February 2014.

Daryl Impey
Daryl Impey during last year’s Tour de France. Source: http://www.darylimpey.com/

“I had no knowledge of Probenecid nor have I ever taken the substance knowingly in any manner. I am committed to drug-free sport and fully intend to take all steps necessary to clear myself of any suspicion.

Yorkshire, Tour de France. Photo: Leonie B-T
Yorkshire, Tour de France. Photo: Leonie B-T

“The notification came as a complete shock to me just days before the start of the Tour de France, particularly since anti-doping tests conducted on me on 8 and 9 February 2014 yielded no adverse results.

“I immediately flew back to South Africa and was present at the analysis of my B sample on 27 June 2014, the results of which confirmed the initial analysis.

“I am extremely distressed by the finding, as I have always raced clean throughout my career. Every result that I have achieved to date has been as a result of hard work and dedication on my part.

“I notified my team immediately after being informed by Cycling South Africa of the adverse finding. I would like to thank them, my family and friends for their support during this difficult time. I remain confident that I will be vindicated and proved innocent of any wrongdoing.”

The first three stages of the Tour de France are being hosted by England – stage one between Leeds and Harrogate was won today by Marcel Kittel of Germany. Stage two is between York and Sheffield, and Stage three between Cambridge and London. The cyclists will enter France on Tuesday and complete the legendary 3,664 km race in Paris on July 27.