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Ex-MotoGP team boss and rally driver Paul Bird has received an eight-year competition ban after he was found guilty of evading a drugs test by the UK Anti Doping Panel.
Bird is a regular frontrunner in the BTRDA Rally Series, a gravel-only championship that caters for a range of machinery, and drives a Ford Focus WRC07.
He received a two-year ban in 2015 for testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine and diuretics, following his win on the Nicky Grist Stages in July.
Bird then returned after his ban was complete in 2017, and intended to mount a full attack on the BTRDA Gold Star championship the following year.
However, after the Rallynuts Stages on April 14 last year, Bird was charged by the National Anti-Doping Panel Tribunal with “Evading, Refusing or Failing to submit to Sample Collection”.
UK Anti Doping has now banned him from competition sanctioned by the UK governing body, Motorsport UK, for eight years starting from July 11 2018.
He did compete on two events after the Rallynuts Stages, the Plains Rally (pictured), which he finished third on and he took victory on the Carlisle Stages.
That put him in position to fight eventual champion Matt Edwards, who also won the British Rally Championship in 2018.
It is not yet clear why Bird was able to contest these events before he was suspended.
UKAD’s chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: “It is clear in the anti-doping rules that refusing to provide a sample will be treated as seriously as a failed test.
“Mr Bird was aware of this, having been warned of the consequences by Doping Control Personnel at the time.
“UKAD will always aim to secure the strongest possible sanctions for those who do not adhere to anti-doping procedures; treating the concept of clean sport with complete contempt.”
A statement from Motorsport UK read: “Like all national governing bodies (NGBs) we have a duty to ensure our sport is as safe and fair as possible.
“We entrust UKAD with our anti-doping processes and have total confidence in the findings of the independent National Anti-Doping Panel.
“We ask that all our members respect the anti-doping protocols, which have been put in place to protect the motorsport community and indeed the sport itself.”
Paul Bird Motorsport competed in MotoGP from 2012-14, running ART bikes and its own PBM machinery.
More recently the squad has found success in the British Superbike championship where it won the teams’ and riders’ championships in 2016 and ’17.
Autosport contacted Paul Bird for comment, who responded that he did not want to comment at this time.
Plains Rally image courtesy of JMS Photographic