Gonzalo Calisto releases #EPO #UTMB Statement (English Version)


One week ago, the mountain, ultra and trail running world found out that Gonzalo Calisto tested positive after placing 5th at the 2015 UTMB. If you are coming to this new, may I suggest you read my posts in order as listed below as they will provide information and also chronologically provide an insight into my investigations.

Post 1 HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE


Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE


Gonzalo Calisto has now released a statement via his Facebook page in Spanish and I have had a translation done. Please keep in mind that a translation may lose some of the uniqueness of the original, however, I do feel that what we have below provides an excellent insight.

As with all posts relating to this matter, I welcome your feedback.

Gonzalo introduces this by saying:

Thank you all for your support, I’ve taken a few days to be able to collect all this information and share it with you.
We will continue with the head held high, we’ll see you soon in the mountains!!!

I’m not a professional runner. I’m an amateur, with dreams which mantain my passion for adventure. Plainly, experiences in nature are my day-to-day targets, for every train and every run. I have never ran for prizes, or medal or recognizement, least of all for money. During these 13 years full of adventures I have filled my spirit with livings and learnings, and I have had the luck to share them with lots of generations of adventurers on lots of countries. During these years, I have witnessed exponential grow of trailrunning all over the world, and today trailrunning has lots of fans on my country on lots of running events.
Physiology: I have always been fascinated for the mountains, specially for the tall ones. I learnt to run there, to go up and down, walking and running, pushing myself and learning how the nature and strenght of the mountains fills our body and spirit. Ecuador, due to its geographical situation – Quito its capital 3000m above sea level – mountains with different heights and terraings and even different weather. Due to this, it is a privileged playground to train and go outdoors. Sport events are usually run on mountain and in zones, which go fron 3000 to 4500m+. Our bodies adapt to the high altitude and our blood is dense, which allows oxigenation. This process does not happen on sea level, and this training in altitude is scientifically known and used by lots of athletes to improve performance. It is called ‘altitude training’ and it’s a natural process. Legal At a country level, in Ecuador Trail running is not registered as a sport. No federation guides it, and it is not regulated by any ministery or govenrnment agency. Every trailrun event is private, and there are no licenses to ‘legally’ compete nor standarised rules. At an international level, Trail running is availed by the different athletic federations on the diferent countries, and runners have a local ranking to run on some important events. So, inside this called ‘elite’ they got licenses granted by their respective federations. These licenses somehow guarantee sport protocols between runners and sport event organizations.
IAAF is the organization which handles rules on elite athletics at a world level. IAAF runs an world ultratrail championship, but does not avail more trail events, as they are not considered ‘big events’ such as olimpic or panamerican games. This way, UTMB is not on their list.
AFLD: The French Agency against doping is the organization who takes care of doping on sport events on France.
ITRA: The Internationan Association of Trail Running, is an organization wich mantains a ranking based on an index generated based on the performance of a given athlete in different runs.
EPO: The eritropoyetin hormone, is an hormone which makes blood dense. It is naturally generated on hypoxic conditions, such as high altitude..
UTMB: UTMB is the most prestigious long-distance trailrun, which goes arond the Mont-Blanc. It is a private event, with no prices in money, which gathers 2500 runners from all around the world. 300 of them are ‘elite’ or ‘professional’. UTMB has its own ranking, based on the points gained for the participants in different sport events which UTMB avails.
CASE: During the UTMB I went on a doping control, before the depart and another after the run. This test marked positive, showing presence of EPO, but without specifying which kind of EPO was found, nor the EPO levels.
AFLD was the one who ran these tests and the one who reported the case to the IAAF.
I asked for the analysis, but I could never review the exact results. Altough IAAF regulates professional sport they have make public the results obtained.
However, they have not considered that I am not a professional athlete. I don’t have a license and I don’t belong to any federation, so the have no jurisdiction on ‘punishing’ me.
UTMB organisation had no knowledge on this case until it was public on social networks. This shows also the lack of coordination between these two organizations.
Positive test should be analized in the ‘B’ take to ratificate EPO presence. This second test should ratificate the first positive and its levels or mark the first test as a false positive. This second test is usually done upon solicitation from the federation which the athlete belongs to, which is usually the one who extends the license to the athlete. In my case, as I don’t have a license, UTMB should make me firm a provisional license to allow me to participate with the ‘elite’ ones. I never firmed that document. Besides, they should make sure that I got all the information and knowledge about all the ‘elite’ protocols; information that never was told to me.
In this case, I was without legal support from any ferederation or government; and to go agains the positive I should take all expenses on myself. These expenses are above my resources, as I’m a person from Ecuador against an international French agency.
With all these I want to point out that legal resources that have judged and sentenced me are not enough, as they lack of the ‘bases’ to coordinate events, regulators and rules to apply to non-professional athletes. We amateurs take the expenses on ourselves without no federation. So, I can’t use my right to defend myself, rigth that every juridic rule on the world has and I cannot use. To end In my country, we the ecuator runners must ask our Ecuator Running Federation to register trailrunning as a sport, to grant licenses to high-level runners who want to take part on international events and support and avail the main running events in Ecuador. Also, the Ecuatorian federation should take care also of the andti-doping tasks and generate a runners ranking at an international level, we must estabish compatible parameters between international event organizers and the federations; improve the information and make sure that the athletes know the category where they are going to run, and to make sure that they know the anti-pogind rules applicable.
I’m with the anti-doping. I like clean game and I have never intentionally used anything to artificially improve my performance. But we must be coherent with runner’s real life, specially on countries where these sports have no international rules, and work to create a clear and safe platform to run high performance sports on.
I wonder, are the anti-doping tests really fit? do they take into account genetic trace of the runners (feeding, origin, training) before publishing results?
Is it OK to judge a non-professional runner, which does not make a living with trailrunning the same way we do with a professional?
Is it OK to run anti-doping tests without the legal coverage for non-licensed runners which will have difficults to claim their rights?
I’m probably the first case on this. I’m not a professional. I don’t have a license. I live and train between 3000 and 5000 masl. I have dense blood. I got a top-5 on an international running event with professional runners from all Europe which clearly know the rules. I came to the UTMB controls without the complete knowledge of high competition protocols. I have no license and no legal support fom a federation and I consider that methods used on me are not equity, transparent and impartial. There are other sports -such as the IronMan series- where they take into account the runner condition (amateur or professional) to skip these kind of polemic situation due to the lack of legal support and information on the professional protocols.
Why my case was reported by the IAAD and the UTMB organization had no idea on what was going on?
Why the rules from IAAF, AFLD and UTMB are not compatible with the positive anti-doping test from an amateur runner?
Under which authority IAAF punished me for 2 years?
I’m not a federated runner. Why the UTMB does not have a professional runner list?
Why UTMB is not registered with the IAAF avail?
Why they let me run without a federative license in a category where they are going to do controls which need this license?
I want my case to clarify and modify the trailrunning world rules.
We welcome your feedback on this post?
  • For me, it raises many question marks and the most important is the fact that Gonzalo tested positive in August 2015. The AFLD/IAAF confirmed a ban in March 2016 and then this was published on the IAAF website in June.
  • Gonzalo Calisto will have known about this positive test for sometime and chose to do nothing! The above statement has come about because his positive test has been made public.
  • We still have no news from his sponsors, Movistar and Compressport.
  • Amateur or professional, rules are rules and doping is doping!
  • Gonzalo Calisto has raced since UTMB and July 2016 and gained results, why have these races not made a statement and why have they not disqualified him?

Many more questions will come….

30 thoughts on “Gonzalo Calisto releases #EPO #UTMB Statement (English Version)

  1. Does this highlight an issue with EPO testing? I’d like to understand what the method of testing was for Calisto, and is there a chance that living and training at 3000m could produce a false positive. If the test looks for dense blood then I think he has a point, but if the test looks for synthetic EPO then he has no leg to stand on. We need context to this and full disclosure from the testing agency as an athlete’s reputation and love for the sport is in jeopardy and on the other hand so is the integrity of the sport itself. Sad times.

    • You cannot get a false positive from living and training at altitude. The only anomalies to show up from living and training at altitude would be those found in a biological passport result. Calisto does not have one of those so it appears that synthetic EPO was found.

    • Yes. This is a crazy statement. On one hand he says he has not doped but then again, he says he’s not professional so it’s ok? If you are not professional rules don’t apply…. Mmmmmm

      • I’m not really sure that’s the way he intends to say this. I feel he positions himself as “I’m not a professional runner, I’m not used to these protocols, to the way you deal with anti-doping test, I really don’t understand what’s going on”. Not willing to let him go away with that so easily but at the same time the communication on that matter by both IAAF and UTMB is very dodgy…

        I expect that the tests performed at UTMB are based on blood samples, taken before the race for the “elite” starters (check Yoann Stuck tweet from last year as he was part of the elite pack at CCC : https://twitter.com/yoannstuck/status/636831554757611520). Was that the case for Calisto on the UTMB race? It’s not really clear and UTMB website is, as for every year, fully updated for the upcoming year, so it’s now impossible to find any informations on the 2015 edition regarding the “elite” pack. I-Run Far website does not list him among the “Top International athletes”… The argument “thicker blood” does not really stand, as I suspect the EPO search in anti-doping test focuses on its synthetic form (waiting for confirmation on that point). As a non-professional runner, he is not subjected to the bio-passport, which has been at the origin of some sort of controversy for a professional Colombian cyclist (altitude native as well) quite recently (Sergio Henao from Team Sky).

        Anyway, everybody’s position, IAAF, UTMB (which, I think, has been a bit too silent) and Calisto, has to be clarified, for the sake of trail running and for the sake of sport.

      • For sure it will be a urine sample at UTMB (tbc) and so therefore synthetic. So altitude story is rubbish. All the more need for blood passports

    • In regards to the blood vs. urine testing. My experience, which albeit limited (I’ve been tested a few times before and after events), is that the pre-event testing is typcially blood and the post event testing is urine. So the positive sample from the post event urine would be of the synthetic version of EPO. Again just speculation here.

  2. It’s a shambles throughout. I don’t have the knowledge regarding EPO but in terms of process the athlete must have the ability to request a B sample test, the race must publicise their PED policy and process, timeliness, transparency and effective communication have had the spotlight shone on them and it looks fairly under par. It still isn’t clear if the athlete has cheated or not or had the benefit of due process. The translation may be a bit rambling but it doesn’t matter if your elite or otherwise if you enter an event with clearly defined policies and sign on the dotted line and get caught your toast. (Unless of course your entering the Olympics from Russia)

    • I’ve researched this extensively. UTMB as I understand it have done nothing wrong. It’s the process at fault. The testing agency, in this case AFLD are not at liberty to inform the race of a positive. That’s crazy! Instead they inform IAAF who updates the website for suspensions. That’s how we found out and it was me that informed UTMB. Crazy!

  3. “Any competitor can be submitted to an anti-drug control before, during or at the end of a race. If he/she refuses or abstains, the sportsman or woman is treated as if found guilty of taking drugs.”
    Directly from the 2015 rules. No excuse that he doesn’t have a license.
    This is an EPO test, not a biological passport, so can’t be falsely tripped by living at altitude.

  4. The contention that amateurs cannot be banned is false.

    The heirarchy is as follows: International Convention against Doping in Sport (provides an international legal framework for governments and recognises the WADA Code) – WADA (and NADOs) – IAAF – ITRA – UTMB. UTMB has a published health policy banning doping. UTMB is affiliated to ITRA. ITRA is recognised by the IAAF and must comply with the principles of Article 252 of the global regulation of competitions. The ITRA has an agreement with Athletes for Transparency (AFT) organisation to carry out testing for the ITRA. Collaborating with the race organizer, ITRA sets up the biomedical analyses (blood and/or urinary and/or capillary) before the start of the race. Competitors have to agree when signing up to be subject to doping controls. The French courts (applicable here) have confirmed that amateurs can be banned.

    Therefore the ban is legal and applies worldwide.

    Note – Doping is a criminal offence in France and imprisonment is possible.

  5. So to the tests.

    These were carried out by AFLD one of the most respected WADA accredited labs and one which has very strict protocols re testing A and B samples and is renowned for following due process. If AFLD failed to follow the process it would lose its accreditation as Russia, Kenya and Madrid have (and Rio did temporarily).

    To correct the assertion above re B samples, it is always the athlete that has to request a test of the B sample, not a federation or any other body.

    What is less well known is that AFLD and others can now test for EPO micro-dosing. AFLD has the legal authority to test anyone in France participating in any sport, amateur or professional.

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  8. The most important thing we are still missing – details about the process and/or exact values. And these facts are here mentioned only as (“I am sure” based on no evidence) or (“surely” – no evidence) or “tbc”. This is a crucial point.
    IAAF and/or national federation can only publish/confirm the substance, with no further details. The only subject/person who can publish these results, is the athlete himself.
    But what Gonzalo states is that, he was not informed about the details. (Can we confirm this?)(And usually athletes, when have the details about the Sample A request or not to test the sample B – as sample A is done on federations expenses, but B is carried out upon atheltes request on his own expenses:

    Because now we cannot know, if he asked for test B, and/or if it was positive also.

    So the key questions are:
    1) Was Gonzalo provided the full information about the analysis? (IAAF should be asked to confirm this).
    If he was informed than there are more questions – did he ask for sample B? Was it also positive? (This information is also missing – there is an info about the process in general, but not about this specific case).
    If he was not informed, than it is a grave failure of IAAF and Gonzalo cannot effectively defend himself even if he wanted.

    2) What is the nature of the test?
    Was it a synthetic EPO or simply higher values of erythrocytes and haemoglobin?

    The latter case can be a result of genetic origin and or specific training and does not prove the use of PED. So the athlete is assessed a ban for five days, with no further consequences.
    But as he was assessed a ban for two years, it seems that it was synthetic EPO test. However, this is another crucial point and stronger evidence is needed here than that “it seems”.

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  10. Professional or not if he was tested positive for synthetic EPO which was used to enhance his performance then he committed an offence.

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