Athlete Disqualified Over Doping, Despite Never Failing A Drug Test
Gerrard Gosens is a Paralympian, an iron man and even has a Mount Everest climb under his belt.
To say he is a successful Australian athlete is, therefore, perhaps an understatement.
The triathlete has repeatedly competed on the world stage, representing Australia at the Paralympics and several world championships.
And at all those events, Gosens, 49, has never once tested positive for drug use.
"The strongest thing I’ve ever had is a cup of coffee or some sort of sports drink," Gosens told The Sunday Project's Lisa Wilkinson.
Shockingly, in July this year, Gosens had his results disqualified from a 2018 race over a doping charge.
But Gosens never failed his drug test.
As a blind athlete, Gosens must place his full trust on a guide -- someone who leads him around the course when he competes to make sure he doesn't crash.
Most recently, that role had fallen on Stephen Thompson.
As well as guiding Gosens at the 2018 Gold Coast Grand Final, Thompson competed himself, winning the silver medal in his race.
But his win was marred after the Australian athlete tested positive to the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO), which left him with a four-year disqualification. Thompson has blamed his positive drug test on medication he took for a tooth infection while in Bali.
Bizarrely, despite being tested at Gosens' race and returning a negative result at the time, Thompson's punishment -- levelled by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) -- went beyond the athlete himself and saw Gosens disqualified as well.
For Gosens, the incident meant he not only lost a friend, but potentially a career as well. The stripping of his qualifications means Gosens lost valuable points and has virtually no chances of competing at the next Paralympics.
He tried to have the ITU appeal his punishment, which didn't work. His next step is to take his case to the Confederation of Australian Sports -- but as he told The Sunday Project, that would cost tens of thousands of dollars. He simply can't afford it.
"I know it is unfair in a sense that I wish common sense would prevail," Gosens said.
"If ... my guide on that day was racing with me was found positive for drugs, I would understand that because perhaps somewhere along the race there could’ve been some sort of advantage, but no, he was negative actually when he raced with me."
Gosens says he hasn't spoken to his former guide since but did receive an apology email from him after the incident.
But for Gosens that simply hasn't been enough, admitting he wants to speak to Thompson directly.
"Empty. Angry. Frustrated. Confused why he won’t just pick up the phone and say 'I’m sorry'," Gosens said when asked how he feels about Thompson now.
"And I think [I want him to] apologise not just to me but to the people who surround me in my team because they are just as impacted as I am as an athlete."
Gosens has vowed to continue training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics despite his weakened chances at qualifying because of the point ramifications of the doping penalty.
"I’m battling a very large battle," he said.
The Project approached Stephen Thompson on more than one occasion and in each instance he declined requests for an interview or to make any public comment on the matter.
Catch the full interview with Gerrard Gosens and Lisa Wilkinson on The Sunday Project at 6:30pm.