Main image courtesy of WSX Championship.
The alphabet soup of different racing series and sanctioning bodies has once again crept into the news, after Whiskey Throttle Media’s Instagram on Tuesday reported a rumor that Ken Roczen had refused to take an anti-doping test at the final round of the WSX Series in Australia. Racer X had already heard from sources that Ken did take the test in Australia, so this was confusing. So, yesterday we spoke to Roczen’s agent, Steve Astephen, to get some clarification on a variety of topics. Astephen was in Australia with Roczen, and he says Roczen did take the anti-doping test, and as proof he is still the FIM World Supercross Champion and has been invited to the FIM Awards banquet to celebrate. However, Astephen admitted that he wasn’t happy about the testing, didn’t know it would be part of the WSX races, and doesn’t think it should apply to off-season races that he considers outside of Ken’s main competition season of AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross. So, Astephen got mad. Some riders at the Australian GP thought Roczen didn’t take the test because Astephen was heard yelling at FIM and WADA (World Anti-Doping) officials.
Astephen told us why he was so upset. Essentially, it comes down to Astephen considering the AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross seasons to be Roczen’s “in competition” season, and he felt like the World Supercross rounds, where Ken was paid an appearance fee and didn’t take purse money, to be an exhibition. This all brings up the unique nature of racing AMA races and then jumping into FIM sanctioned events, which still use WADA testing. The athlete needs to know in advance what is expected. Although it’s generally known that the FIM uses WADA, Astephen says he was not aware, and the WSX Series never mentioned this to him when he negotiated Ken’s deal to participate in the races.
“These NFL and NBA players, they know the rules because the rules are brought to them, and they run through them every year. Which, by the way, the AMA and the FIM do not do that. Period,” Astephen says. “There are performance supplements that you use [when the athlete is] out of competition. All athletes, not just Ken Roczen, that are in a high stress sport with only two months off a year, you’re putting so much strain on your body, your adrenal glands, your cortisol levels. There are real doctors that see athletes in the off-season and do things to get their bodies back to normal. There’s a lot of stuff that’s legal, or IV stuff, that if you did it during competition it could be considered, or it is, performance enhancing. But it’s okay if you do it outside of competition. NASCAR, PGA, NFL, NBA, it’s so key. They know exactly what their window is.”
Astephen was not aware there would be WADA testing at the FIM World Supercross events, so when Roczen was told on the podium in Australia to go test, the agent lost his temper. However, he knew, eventually, Roczen would have to take the test.
“Ken eventually took the test, of course we were gonna’ [take the test], we’re not going to take a ten-year suspension (Astephen and Roczen were told if they do not test, the athlete could face a suspension of up to 10 years). I’m familiar with how WADA works, I work with Olympic athletes. At Wales, there’s no FIM meeting and no explanation that the FIM is involved. Now I have to admit this: it’s on all the riders and their agents to assume—and yes that’s how you make an ass out of you and me—to assume is that when I get a rider paid, well over a half-million dollars to race races like this, including Paris, that’s a demonstration. We didn’t get purse money, just so you know. We didn’t go there to win a series. They paid Kenny a lot of money to go race a one off, just like Eli Tomac. We did two rounds. We considered it a one-off. He’s out of competition because Ken Roczen races American AMA Supercross and American AMA Outdoors. He doesn’t race FIM events. He doesn’t race Australian Supercross. We show up in Cardiff and there’s no talk of drug tests. When my NBA guys go over to China to do games in China, they don’t fall under NBA rules. Having said that, I should have yelled and said, “Why are you calling this a series? Two rounds isn’t a championship!
“So no signs of anything in Wales. No signs of anything in Paris. We’re doing our out-of-season program with legally prescribed things from Dr. Lamay. Everything is legally prescribed.”
When Astephen heard Roczen had to test, he immediately worked to get in touch with Ken’s doctor in the U.S. to find out exactly what the doctor had prescribed.
“As a matter of fact I had the pill bottle in Australia, and I admitted it. I showed them the bottle! There’s nothing to hide! There’s nothing illegal! Could it cause an issue and a rumor? Yeah! I was being so loud and showing it right to their face! Of course people heard me in the tunnel. They had no meeting about how this series will be covered through WADA because the FIM is WADA. So we don’t know what’s going on.”
Once Astephen got in touch with the doctor in the U.S. and found out what product Ken had, they looked it up on the WADA code and found out it wasn’t on the banned list. “The bottle didn’t even have a label! I asked them if I could please call the doctor. I called the doctor, he gave me a list, Yarrive [Konsky, team owner of Genuine Honda] got on the laptop and looked it up. He said, “Steve, all of this is fine.” I said, “Thank you Jesus.” I didn’t know. They’re supplements that Dr. Lamay prescribes to him during the off-season.
“Now, people are going to ask, why is he [Kenny] taking it out of season? Well, this certain one, it’s not actually about performance. I thought it was. The reason Dr. Lamay or any of the doctors won’t let you use this supplement during the season is because it can make you drowsy, or it can give you jitters. I asked Kenny what it feels like, and Kenny said it feels like he drank 20 cups of coffee. You wouldn’t want that when you’re racing. It sucks at first but if you get through it, it’s great for your immune system. It’s miserable and I don’t think people would want to do it during the season.
“These doctors aren’t prescribing anything illegal, because they don’t want to go to jail!” says Astephen. “By the way, if anyone thinks these riders are on HGH, any rider who is taking HGH would be stupid. HGH would be the last thing someone like Ken Roczen should take. What is growth hormone going to do for a motocross rider? They need endurance, not strength.”
Also, Roczen has a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) from USDA (in America) to use an asthma inhaler. The WADA officials accepted that TUE. After that, Astephen agreed to let Roczen test.
“If he refused to take the test, they would make a public statement at that time,” says Astephen.
“This is all on me,” says Astephen. “Kenny was very nice to everyone; he was laughing about it. I was the one who got fired up.”
So there you go. Roczen’s agent went off on the officials and asked for time until he could check to see if Kenny’s supplements were fair under the WADA list. He yelled and screamed, but ultimately Ken took the test. By the way, there hasn’t been any word about the actual results of the test, as that usually takes several weeks, or more.
This drama is just a small part of Ken’s big off-season, where he has been trying different bikes and teams since his departure from Honda HRC. Honda did not want Roczen to compete in WSX, so the two sides had to agree to disagree, and Roczen no longer has a Honda deal for 2023.
Ken has been most closely linked with the Genuine Honda racing team he competed with at WSX and the Paris Supercross (which also races in the U.S. as Firepower Honda) and the HEP Suzuki team, which would be backed by Progressive insurance with Ken on board. If Roczen signs, we hear the team will run a second semi so the other team riders can still run with Twisted Tea logos. Roczen is backed by Red Bull and can’t have a different beverage sponsor on his bike.
Astephen says Roczen invited the HEP Suzuki team to test with him in Florida this week, and he will make a decision soon. But then, last night Roczen posted a photo of a couple of Pro Circuit built Kawasaki KX450s in his shop. The saga continues….