Rourke Croeser was tipped to qualify for the Olympics

Rourke Croeser, a top South African cross country cyclist, has tested positive for EPO.

Croeser was found to have taken EPO in an out of competition urine test conducted on 30 August 2015. He asked for his B sample to be analysed and this confirmed the positive result.

Croeser was placed under provisional suspension as of 8 October 2015, the date on which he was notified of the adverse analytical finding. The case will now be referred to the Independent Doping Hearing Panel for hearing and adjudication.

EPO is a performance enhancing substance that causes the body to produce more red blood cells and therefore provide more oxygen to the muscles. It was used by Lance Armstrong when he raced in the Tour de France.

Watch highlights of the Val di Sole World Cup where Croeser finished 15th

Croeser is a 24-year-old athlete who claimed his best ever result at the World Cup finals in Val di Sole on 23 August when he finished 15th. He was also suspended from the World Championships in Andorra in late August for being found with a syringe in his luggage.

William Newman, president of Cycling South Africa, says: “Cycling South Africa respects the independence of the SAIDS [South African Institute for Drug Free Sport] process and will respect the outcome. Cycling SA further reiterates its zero-tolerance approach to doping in sport and will continue working with SAIDS in the promotion of a drug-free sport via its awareness and extensive testing programmes.”

Croeser’s hearing will be conducted in the new year. It is expected he will receive a four year sanction in absence of any mitigating circumstances.