Jeanson Press Conference - October 11, 2003
The Canadian Cycling Association held a press conference after the women's road race, to address questions raised by the unacceptable hematocrit result Genevieve Jeanson recorded this morning, which led to her being unable to race this afternoon.
After a brief statement read by CCA President Bill Kinash, and a few words by Jeanson, the floor was open to the approximately 100 members of the media present for questions.
The full text of the statement:
The Canadian Cycling Association is very disappointed that one of our best medal hopes, Genevieve Jeanson, was not able to start the women's road race today.
We know she is very upset, as are we all.
It is important to stress that this is not a positive doping test, but rather a situation where a rider has been declared unfit to ride.
We will keep you abreast of any developments in this situation.
We are more concerned about the condition of Kevin Lacombe, who remains in critical condition in Hamilton General Hospital.
As you know, he suffered head injuries this morning, when he crashed while competing in the junior men's road race.
Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
During the press conference, Sean O'Donnell of the CCA was able to provide a more current update as to Lacombe's status. O'Donnell said that Lacombe had broken one of the orbital bones above his eye and had suffered head trauma. Doctors had performed a full battery of diagnostic tests, including a CT scan, and were confident that he would make a full recovery. He is currently being kept sedated, which is normal with this type of injury, and will be sedated overnight.
The remainder of the press conference focussed on Jeanson's high hematocrit result. Both Jeanson and the CCA were cautious in their responses to the media, particularly to any speculative questions of the "if it were doping..." type.
Jeanson, who has used an oxygen (she referred to it as an "hypoxic") tent since 1998, was at a loss to explain the result, but did suggest that tent may have been the cause. "It is effective; you can use it to 15,000 feet, but I was never worried that it would cause this to happen. It is possible that this caused the situation. It is a very thin line we tread (as athletes) before going over the limit." Michael Barry and his wife Dede also use one, as do many other riders.
"I would like to be able to tell you something, but I think that since this morning I am in a state of shock. I am extremely disappointed and sad of not having been able to participate in the team effort, and also of not having been able to race. I have nothing else to say. My head is frozen."
Jeanson was over the 47 reading allowed for women, but refused to say by how much. Currently, the situation is that she is declared unfit for racing for 15 days, and the UCI will analyze the results of the urine sample she provided this morning. She also said that this was the first blood test she had ever had in competition.
"Yes, this was my first test going into competition. It is not the first test I have ever had." This means that she has had private testing (as do many elite athletes). "I felt confident at the time of the test that I was fine, that there would be no problem."
She also said that she had spoken with her sponsor Rona, and that "they are 100% behind me." It must still have been a considerable blow to them, given their sponsorship of the world championships.
Finally, Jeanson said that she had not had a chance to talk to her tem mates on the women's squad after the positive. "No, I did not have a chance, but to tell the truth, I was in too much shock."
Yury Kacherin, the national coach, spoke about breaking the news to the other members of the women's team. "Of course they were surprised and shocked. It was very emotional, and some of the riders cried when they heard. But, they had a team meeting, and they found the strength to get together as a team and represent Canada."
The hematocrit level for women is set at 47 and for men at 50. According to the UCI Press Officer, Enrico Carpani, of 1400 athletes tested, only 12 or 13 have naturally high levels above these limits.
Canadian team members Lyne Bessette and Manon Jutras both commented on the situation after their race, condeming Jeanson (quotes from Sportcom).
Bessette: "Once somebody does something that is not right, that person must be punished. We were just waiting to find when that was going to get out, and it got out today. For sure, it's not fun to hear things like that, except that us (the Canadian Team) don't have anything to do with it. It concerns only one person, that's it"
Jutras: "It's surprising, but (the news) had a positive impact on us. We had to get hold of ourselves, and we said "okay, we are five to face the music, and we are all going to be there." It is too bad for cycling. I think that she (Jeanson) will have to face the music. Those are her actions, and she must take responsibility."