Banned cyclist competing in trail running races (updated)

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ITRA confirms David Belda Garcia ineligible for their events

A professional cyclist has sparked controversy in Spain by competing in trail running races despite being banned from international sports competition.

Spaniard David Belda Garcia, who received a four-year ban last December after testing positive for EPO, has reportedly contested low-key mountain events around the Valencia area.

The Spanish-language website Infotrail reports the local trail running community has been concerned by his appearance in the events,

Garcia wrote in a statement to Infotrail that he grew to love trail running after being invited to run a mountain event a year ago. Despite his ban from professional cycling and other Olympic sports at international level until 2021, he then decided to take part in other trail running events last September.

In the translated statement, he added: “I express that none of the races in which I have taken part are federated. I am aware that I can not get any license from any sport and therefore I can not participate in any event regulated by any federation. Therefore I think I did not do anything wrong, I go to the races to enjoy what I like and to share a weekend time with family and friends of the world. I want to make clear that I have never wanted to disrespect anyone, or any organiser, except any participant and therefore I have never intended to create any controversy.

“After all this I can only say that today I will not take part in any trail without first asking the organiser, and not because I can not, but out of respect, I should know everything that could involve my career.

“If I am accepted to participate, I am aware that perhaps the most indicated would be to leave me without a prize and without a trophy if I am lucky enough to be among the first.”

Update
The International Trail Running Association (ITRA) has since responded to TR, pointing out that Garcia has competed in a race affiliated to them - against their rules.

He ran in Cronos A Foc race on November 11, contravening their rules regarding sportspeople suspended for doping.

ITRA said in a statement: “We do not accept that an athlete sanctioned for doping participates in races. As a member of ITRA, the organisation of the race must respect our ethical charter and our commitments to health and doping. We have informed the organiser of the situation and are waiting for his answer. We are also trying to contact the athlete concerned by this situation.”