American professional triathlete Collin Chartier was handed a three-year ban from competition on Monday after a positive result for erythropoietin (EPO) in a random drug test from February. The Ironman champion took to Instagram to address the positive test, stating that he was not going to make excuses, instead admitting his guilt. At the end of his apology note, Chartier took blatant shots at Olympic runners Shelby Houlihan and Zane Robertsonboth of whom have faced doping bans in recent years.
“I am not going to give myself or anyone else the bullshit excuse like a tainted burrito or tainted COVID vaccine,” Chartier wrote. The “tainted burrito” was a reference to Houlihan’s post-doping-ban excuse in June 2021, while the COVID vaccine line was a nod to Robertson’s more recent doping bust in March.
After testing positive for the steroid nandrolone in Dec. 2020, Houlihan claimed it was due to contaminated meat that she ate at a food truck the night before her test. Robertson took a similar route following his ban on her, blaming her positive test (which occurred in May 2022) on a COVID-19 vaccine he received in Kenya.
Chartier’s apology has not been well received by the triathlon community, with many of his peers going after him online. While there is no excuse for his actions or his decision to use EPO, at least he admitted to cheating.
“Tell the whole truth”
Chartier’s apology has sparked an important conversation in the triathlon world surrounding dopers and the help they receive to cheat. Many other pro triathletes have demanded that Chartier take his admission of guilt a step further by exposing anyone who helped him cheat and any other athletes whom he knows have doped.
“Tell the whole truth,” eight-time Ironman champion ben hoffman wrote on Instagram. “How did you do it, who helped, who else is involved, and give the full story of why.” Former Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle commented directly on Chartier’s apology post, writing, “Let me guess, you bought [the EPO on] the internet and also learned how to use it—all from the internet. Nobody helped you, nobody knew.”
These athletes—and many fans—have said Chartier’s apology feels hollow and insincere, since he has yet to identify others who helped him or who are also cheating. They object to any praise he may be receiving for being honest about having cheated, insisting that he has a further role to play in cleaning up the sport. (Robertson admitted to doping after originally making the bogus COVID vaccine excuse.)
Although Chartier said he is retiring, he is now serving a three-year ban from competition. Houlihan was given a four-year ban and is not eligible to race again until 2025. Robertson announced his retirement before his ban was made public, but was still given an eight-year ban.