T&T cyclist Njisane Phillip will miss the upcoming TISSOT Union Cycling International (UCI) Track Cycling Nations Cup and possibly the World Track Championship after the world governing body for the sport upheld a previous ban handed down by Panam Sports.
The Nations Cup is carded for Cali, Colombia from September 9–12 and the TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Championships is slated for October 13-17 at a venue to be decided.
According to a source close to the issue, Phillip was handed a three-month ban effective from July 12, 2021, for the use of a banned substance during the 2019 Elite Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.
It is understood, the UCI did its own investigation amid an appeal by Phillip’s lawyers through the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
Reached for comment, Rowena Williams, president of T&T Cycling Federation (TTCF) confirmed the decision by UCI and replied via Whatsapp saying: "UCI after its deliberation on the matter has placed a three-month suspension on Njisane (Phillip) effective July 12."
Williams added: "The federation (TTCF) would be enforcing the suspension as handed down by the UCI.
Last September, two-time Olympian Phillip lost his appeal at the CAS against a doping offence at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
Back then, CAS confirmed the decision made by the Panam Sports Ad Hoc Disciplinary Commission on November 15, 2019.
It determined that a prohibited substance was found in the cyclist's sample and subsequently his results from Lima 2019 were disqualified.
As a result, T&T was stripped of their gold medal in the men's team sprint track cycling event, with Colombia moving up to the top spot. The final had been won at the Games by Nicholas Paul, Keron Bramble and Phillip.
Paul retained his gold medal in the individual sprint event, but Phillip was stripped of his silver medal in the same competition.
Despite the offence, Pan Am Sports claimed it did not believe Philip had any "intention of cheating."
"Panam Sports wishes to state that the prohibited substance found in the sample provided by Phillip is not considered a performance-enhancing substance and believes that regardless of the award by the CAS that confirmed the decision of the Panam Sports Ad Hoc Disciplinary Commission, Phillip had no intention of cheating or having an unfair advantage over his competitors," a statement by the organisation said.
"Panam Sports believes that Phillip is an honest athlete that made a mistake and that he is committed to learn from the experience."
A lawyer representing Phillip criticised Panam Sports following the organisation’s publication of a revised Lima 2019 medal table in January.
Lawyer Tyrone Marcus claimed there had been a leak of information, which he alleges compromised the appeals process.
There were 15 positive tests at the 2019 Pan American Games from a total of 1,905 samples. This included 1,652 urine and 253 blood samples.
The latest decision by UCI comes as a blow to Phillip who only earlier this month, return to international competition for T&T as a member of a national team at the Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships from June 23-29 in Lima, Peru.
Other members of the team were Rigtech Sonics club mates Keron Bramble and Zion Pulido and PSL Cycling Club’s Akil Campbell and Heatwave’s US-based Alexi Costa. The quintet was named to the team by the TTCF racing committee after a two-day trial event at the National Cycling Centre in Couva.
In Peru, T&T won four medals behind the first-place team Colombia, winning 15 medals (eight gold, eight silver, and four bronze) in both the speed and cross-country events.
The team's performances of a gold, two bronze and a silver medal, also earned them qualification to the Youth Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia in November.
The sprint team of Phillip, Bramble and youngster Pulido won silver in the team sprint, while Phillip also pedalled his way to a bronze medal in the keirin.
In addition, Campbell, the lone participant in the endurance events for T&T men secured a historic gold medal in the Scratch race; Costa claimed a bronze medal in the Women's Scratch race. The team was coached in Peru by former national cyclist Gregory Dandrade.
Mexico captured the runner-up second spot with 16 (5 golds, 6 silvers and 5 bronze medals), while Caribbean campaigners Barbados followed T&T in the fourth position with three medals (1 gold, 1 silver and a bronze).
Phillip, who finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympic Games in the men’s sprint was part of the 2018 national team, alongside Olympic-bound cyclistsPaul and Browne, who won gold in this event at the last edition.
As it stands, Phillip is certain to miss Nations Cup set for September through suspension while it will be touch and go if the TTCF opts to include him in the World Championship squad, with his ban set to conclude a day before competition is expected to begin on October 12.
At this year’s Olympics, T&T will be represented by three debutants – Switzerland-based Paul (sprint) and Brown and the nation’s first-ever women's cyclist to qualify, Teniel Campbell (road race), who is currently based in Spain.