September 21, 2007 (Montreal, QC) – Yesterday Genevieve Jeanson, formerly Canada’s Golden Girl of cycling, admitted to having doped with EPO “almost all of her career.” The admission was made on Radio Canada’s French-language TV program, Enquete, that aired yesterday at 9 pm.
The program, animated by Alain Gravel, incorporated several recent interviews with Jeanson, who now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. In the earlier interviews, Jeanson, emphatically and aggressively denies ever doping. Then, as the program unfolds, the inconsistencies in Jeanson’s comments become apparent.
Ultimately she admits to regularly using erythropoietin (EPO) since she was 16-years-old. The Enquete program depicts interviews with many people in Jeanson’s entourage, some of whom contradict themselves at times, such as her former coach, Andre Aubut. Her doctor, Maurice Duquette, also contradicts himself as to whether he ever administered EPO to the cyclist and then becomes evasive. We also learn that Jeanson had a verbally abusive relationship with Aubut including suggestions of physical violence, and that Jeanson, now 26, married Aubut in 2006 but divorced him six months later.
Jeanson’s bubble began to burst when she was tested at the 2003 Hamilton Road World Championships in 2003 and recorded extremely high hematocrit (HC) levels – a measure of the proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells. On the program we learn that her HC level was 56%, well above the normal range of 37-47% for an adult female. During the broadcast Jeanson initially claims that sleeping in a hypoxic tent (with low oxygen content) 360 nights a year was responsible for producing this 56% result. But experts scoff at the suggestion that sleeping in a hypoxic tent could produce such a result, and close friends claim to have never seen Jeanson in such a tent.
One of her supporters, Dr. Ivan Simoneau, authored a report explaining how Jeanson could naturally have a high HC, but he was apparently unaware of just how high it was. When told it was 56%, Simoneau is silenced and eventually proclaims “it’s enormous. And dangerous.” Similarly, Jeanson’s official spokesman, Daniel Larouche, eventually has to admit that the cyclist probably doped.
More cracks appeared when Jeanson missed a doping test at the 2004 Fleche-Wallone race in Belgium. Then at the 2005 Tour of Toona, Jeanson tested positive for EPO, leading to a life-time ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Jeanson, although a Canadian citizen, held a U.S. racing license and was thus subject to American disciplinary procedures.
At the time, Jeanson continued to deny any doping and fought the suspension eventually brokering a deal with USADA, and agreed to a two-year ban that would have expired in July, 2007, but in December 2006, Jeanson declared that she “would never race again.”
“I took it (EPO). In Hamilton, on Mount Royal, almost all year long. You only have to abstain from taking it five days before (the control) and you’re OK,” states Jeanson during the program. Later she adds, “I did what I was told to do and wasn’t brave enough to say no. I regret it all. I lied to those who believed in me.”
She distinguished herself in her career by earning double gold at the 1999 Junior Road World championships winning the road race and time trial, competing at the 2000 Olympics, winning the Montreal Women’s Road World Cup four times, and winning the 2005 Canadian Road Championships.
The Enquete program continues next Thursday, Sept. 27, looking at other questions surrounding the Jeanson case. The next broadcast will examine unanswered questions including:
– who injected her with EPO?
– when & where did these injections take place?
– what was the role of Dr. Maurice Duquette?
– who in her entourage knew about the doping?
– what role if any did her sponsor, Rona, play in all this?
Poignantly, as the interviews progress chronologically over several months in the program, Jeanson’s hair begins to change colour. Like a metaphor, the golden girl dyes her hair to first show touches of blue. By the end of the program, her hair seems to be a rainbow of every colour except gold.
In the past 24 hours, Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 TdF winner’s title following his conviction on a doping charge, but no official announcements have been made as to whether Jeanson will be stripped of any of her titles.
Here are some links (all in French) to the broadcast and story on Radio Canada’s website.