The cycling grandmother used a menopause medication that was prescribed by her physician.
Barbara Gicquel is an 80-year marriage and family therapist who enjoys competing in track sprint cycling in her spare time. She set the world record in the 500-meter time trial event for the 75-79 age group at the 2019 USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships in Carson, California on August 29, 2019.
USA Cycling requires anti-doping testing to certify all national and international records. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) analyzed Gicquel’s urine sample and found metabolites of methyltestosterone )17α-methyl-5β-androstan-3α,17β-diol and 17α-methyl-5α-androstan-3α,17β-diol).
Gicquel was disqualified and stripped of the world record title after USADA analyzed her testing results. USADA also wanted to disqualify all of her competitive cycling results back to 2005. However, an independent arbitrator only disqualified results starting August 29, 2015.
Gicquel was additionally suspended for one year. The suspension was retroactively applied from August 2019. This means that Gicquel is once again eligible to compete (if she stops taking Estratest).
Barbara Gicquel was prescribed Estratest to treat the symptoms of menopause for the past 15 years.
Aleksandra Frey prescribed a medication called Estratest to Gicquel beginning in 2005. The Estratest was prescribed to help Gicquel manage the effects of menopause and to combat obsructive pulmonary disease.
Estratest contains 1.25 milligrams of esterified estrogens and 2.5 mg of methyltestosterone in each tablet. Gicquel has taken ½ of a tablet every day ever since 2005.
Gicquel acknowledged that she first released that Estratest contained an ingredient banned under the USA Cycling and World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) in 2015. However, she really didn’t think it would apply to an older woman like herself. Furthermore, Gicquel felt that the prescribed medication was essential to maintain her health and to keep her alive.
“[I]t was easy to justify that since the list was written with young elite female athletes in mind, it really wasn’t meant for older women like myself, so I continued to take it as prescribed, fearful that if I didn’t, [my condition] might well get worse and I might lose my health and even my life earlier than necessary.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter to USADA that I took a small amount of it for valid health reasons,” she said. “It mattered only that I had taken it knowing that it was on the banned substance list.”
USADA told Gicquel to apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for methyltestosterone. If granted, USADA would apply the TUE retroactively. This meant that Gicquel could have avoided an anti-doping rule violation.
However, USADA repeatedly denied multiple submitted applications for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). USADA argued that Gicquel “did not establish a medical condition that required the use of methyltestosterone”.
Gicquel is eligible to compete again but only if she does not use EstraTest. Gicquel has chosen to focus on her health rather than comply with USADA’s and USA Cycling’s anti-doping rules. She will continue to use EstraTest.
Maese, R. (August 18, 2020). An 80-year-old cycling grandma set a world record. Then she was accused of doping. Retrieved from washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/08/18/an-80-year-old-cycling-grandma-set-world-record-then-she-was-accused-doping/