In a newly released memoir — Open Heart, Open Mind! — Former Olympian Clara Hughes has revealed she tested positive for the banned substance ephedrine in 1994. Clara made this confession in her book and said she was notified of the test result by Cycling Canada’s then national team director.
However, Clara Hughes still maintains she has no idea how the drug got into her system. Clara said she believes either the laboratory made a mistake with her urine samples or she had been sabotaged. Clara admitted she was given a suspension of three months and was advised to keep the violation a secret.
The offence occurred before the creation of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, Canada’s national anti-doping body. Hughes revealed she was notified of this by the then National Team Director who had received the notice of a three-month sanction from the world governing body of cycling. In her biography, Hughes writes that she and three others intentionally kept quiet about the sanction.
In a statement, Cycling Canada said rules and regulations regarding the disclosure of anti-doping rule violations are vastly different today compared to 1994 and it cannot condone the way the matter was handled. The statement said Cycling Canada regardless of the practices of the day believes in full, fair, and open disclosure of all doping related offences. Cycling Canada added in its statement that it is proud of its current role as a leader in the anti-doping movement and remains committed to learning from the mistakes of the past so we don't make them again.
In the book, Hughes said the violation was intentionally kept quiet. Late August, Hughes informed Cycling Canada that she would be making the revelation in her memoir. The former cyclist said she gave an advance copy of the manuscript excerpt about the incident to Cycling Canada.
Clara Hughes was Canada’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics. She is tied with Cindy Klassen for most Olympic medals won by a Canadian. Clara competed in both the Winter Games and the Summer Games and won two bronzes in road cycling at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Clara won gold in 5,000-metre long-track speedskating at the 2006 Turin Olympics and added a silver medal in the team pursuit that same year. She also has the distinction of winning bronze in the 5,000-metre event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games as well as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. A six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating, she is the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in both the Summer Games and the Winter Games.
Hughes was named to both the Order of Manitoba and as an Officer of the Order of Canada because of her success in multiple sports and her humanitarian efforts. She was named Female Athlete of the Year by Speed Skating Canada in 2004 for long track. Clara received the International Olympic Committee's Sport and Community Trophy in 2006. Clara was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame on November 15, 2010.