American Medal Favorite Bascio Reinstated, Headed to London
Contact: U.S. Handcycling, 720.239.1360
World Champion Para-cyclist, Monica Bascio, is headed to London after all. She was reinstated by U.S. Paralympics Sunday when her three-month suspension ended for an unintentional use of a banned substance. Bascio, who competed at the 2006 and 2010 Paralympic Winter Games as a skier, is one of the medal favorites in two handcycling events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, August 29-September 9.
The 15-time U.S. Handcycling champion tested positive for Tuaminoheptane, an ingredient in a nasal spray used to treat sinusitis, on May 25 at a Para-cycling Road World Cup event in Rome, Italy. The U.S. Anti-doping Agency (USADA) applied the discretionary reduced sanction related to the fact that Bascio took the substance in an over-the-counter medication with “no intent to enhance sport performance or mask the use of a performance-enhancing substance”
The three-month retroactive ban expired August 26, allowing Bascio to join the 227-member 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team that will compete in the upcoming London 2012 Paralympic Games. Bascio will compete in the Individual H3 Time Trial on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and H1-3 Road Race on Friday, Sept. 7.
“USADA has been very fair in handling my case, acknowledging that my use of Tuaminoheptane was unintentional. I did make an honest mistake, and readily accepted my three-month suspension. I am thrilled to be able to join my teammates in the UK, as the Paralympics have been my main focus this season,” said an upbeat Bascio as she boarded a plane at Denver International Airport today, headed to London.
Paralyzed in a 1992 ski accident, Bascio represented the U.S. at the 2006 and 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country sit skiing. This will be her first official appearance at the Paralympic Games as a handcyclist. The Individual Time Trial and Road Race events will be held on courses that include the internationally-renowned Brands Hatch motor racetrack and surrounding roads in Kent county. The 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team captured a total of 14 cycling medals in Beijing, including five gold medals.
Bascio will be the only para-cyclist racing in London who also competed at the 1998 World Championships. She is expected to medal in both events, as well as her teammate Muffy Davis of Salt Lake City, UT. They anticipate strong competition coming from Swiss and British teams. Handcycling became an official sport at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, but only for men. The sport was introduced for women for the 2008 Games in Beijing. That year Bascio was recovering from a ski racing accident and did not qualify for the U.S. team.
As a result of the sanction, the 42 year-old Bascio loses all results she earned during the three-month suspension. This includes her 2012 overall World Cup title, two 2012 U.S. National Championship titles, a road race win and time trial 2nd place from the Rome World Cup, and another road race win and time trial 2nd place from the June World Cup in Segovia, Spain.
Bascio has been an impressive handcyclist over the last decade, when she turned handcycling from a sport to cross-train for skiing into her focus for competition. She is well-known for winning the 267-mile Sadler’s Alaska Challenge, one of the world’s longest and toughest handcycle races, five times between 2000-06. She won her first world time trial title in 2002, and in 2011 added both the UCI Para-cycling Time Trial World Championship and Road Race World Championship to her resume.
There are a total of 32 road cycling medal events for men and women at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. This year, Paralympic cycling will be the third largest sport during the 12 days of competition. Paralympic cycling, which is now managed by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), offers different classifications based on functional ability of athletes, including visual impairment, cerebral palsy, amputations or other physical disabilities. Athletes compete using bicycles, tricycles, tandems or handcycles.