'I'm very open that I did drugs' - Cycling champ gets doping ban

Source: Radio New Zealand

National road cycling champion Olivia Ray has been banned from the sport for two and a half years for doping.

Olivia Ray wins the elite women race during the Road Race at the 2022 Elite Road Cycling National Championships. She has since been banned for doping.

Ray, 24, has accepted a two-and-a-half-year suspension imposed by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) for use and possession of multiple prohibited substances.

After receiving information from a whistleblower in December 2021, USADA initiated an investigation that turned up evidence implicating Ray, who was living and competing in the United States at the time.

In statement USADA said when confronted with the evidence, Ray fully cooperated, despite pressure for her not to do so.

Ray told USADA she was provided prohibited substances - Human Growth Hormone (hGH), clenbuterol, and oxandrolone - by another athlete, Jackson "Huntley" Nash, and committed anti-doping rule violations in 2021.

In July Ray told the New Zealand Herald she was in an abusive relationship and took performance enhancing drugs not to win races, rather to win the approval of her then-partner.

"I'm not denying it. I'm very open that I did drugs. I'm just coming to deal with the consequences now," she said.

Ray could have been baned for four years but received a one-year sanction reduction for admitting the charges and accepting the penalty.

USADA also granted her an additional six-month reduction of her sanction for providing substantial assistance in the case against Nash.

Ray's 30-month period of ineligibility began on March 10, 2022, the date her provisional suspension was imposed.

Her competition results on and subsequent to May 17, 2021, the date Nash raised with Ray using hGH and/or other prohibited substances, have been disqualified, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.