An expert on doping who was part of Lance Armstrong’s defense team has been banned from the sport of cycling for four years after testing positive for banned substances.
Expert Witness John Gleaves
John Gleaves is an associate professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). Gleaves focuses his research on doping in sport, which he examines from a variety of sociocultural perspectives. Gleaves was appointed co-director for the International Network for Doping Research from 2012 to 2019. Gleaves is a co-founder and current co-director for CSUF’s Center for Sociocultural Sport and Olympic Research. He also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Olympic Studies. Gleaves co-authored “Doping in Cycling: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” with Bertrand Fincouer and Fabian Ohl, and Practical Philosophy and “History of Sport and Physical Activity” with Scott Kretchmar, Mark Dyreson, and Matthew Llewellyn.
In 2015, Gleaves was an expert witness for Lance Armstrong’s defense during the United States government’s whistleblower lawsuit fraud suit. Gleaves offered testimony about the widespread nature of doping that persisted in the sport at the time that Armstrong was accused of doping.
Armstrong ended up confessing to doping and settling the fraud suit with the federal government for $5 million. As a result of his confession, Armstrong was banned from sanctioned cycling events for life and stripped of all seven of his titles in the Tour de France.
Gleaves’ Doping Ban
In addition to being a kinesiology professor and expert witness, Gleaves is a masters racer on the United States cycling circuit.
On August 31, 2019, Gleaves, 36, gave a urine sample as a participant at the Masters Track National Championships. Gleaves tested positive for oxandrolone metabolites 17α-Hydroxymethyl-17β-methyl-18-nor-2-oxa-5α-androst-13-en-3-one and 17β-Hydroxymethyl-17α-methyl-18-nor-2-oxa-5α-androst-13-en-3-one, as well as clomiphene and its metabolite 4-hydroxyclomiphene.
These substances are prohibited at all times by the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the International Cycling Union Anti-Doping Rules.
As a result of his positive sample, Gleaves accepted a four-year period of ineligibility that began on August 31, 2019. Gleaves has also been disqualified from competitive results obtained on and subsequent to August 31, 2019, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.
Doping Among Seniors on the Rise
While the ban of a doping expert for doping may come as a surprise to some, Gleaves himself has been speaking about the rise of doping among seniors for years.
In June 2015, Gleaves spoke about the rise of doping of seniors at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association convention. Gleaves said that current estimates were that 23 percent to 25 percent of all athletes knowingly use a banned substance at least once during their careers. Gleaves noted that experimentation has increased among masters athletes, or athletes who are 35 and older and compete in things such as distance running and cycling competitions.
Gleaves said, “It’s what no one is talking about now…In cycling, swimming and track and field we’re seeing illicit use. There are a lot of lawyers, doctors and middle- to upper-middle-class people with disposable income and the social capital to be able to get quasi-legal prescriptions.”
Gleaves noted that there was little testing at masters events, so few people were caught. However, the United States Track and Field did begin testing masters athletes over the past few years.