Ricky Garard, a 2017 CrossFit Games podium finisher and Australian rookie phenomenon in the sport, received sanctions after testing positive for banned substances. It was with this single failed test that Garard would mar the face of a largely clean sport for future generations.
Cheaters are inevitable, especially in sports with the level of physical and mental demand CrossFit asks for. Whether the unfortunate coincidence of stars aligning, or deserved targeted blame for the athlete bold enough to cheat all the way to a podium, only time will tell.
The story of Ricky Garard and his 2017 positive test for Testolon and Endurobol seems to live on in infamy, aided by its public shaming on the Fittest on Earth: The Redeemed and the Dominant documentary (courtesy, in part, of the Buttery Bros).
Frankly, Garard’s boldness to take his cheating habits beyond CrossFit mediocrity and into a third-place finish laughs in the face of the organization, the athletes, and the fans. However, the final laugh doesn’t go to Ricky Garard – he missed the important detail that all podium athletes in CrossFit receive drug tests mere minutes after they stand on that podium.
Therein lies Garard’s mistake: the idea that his behavior was infallible and that he belonged in the midst of those who truly do the work, and have proven it time and time again through constant drug testing. Those athletes are, and stand among: Mat Fraser, Ben Smith, Rich Froning, Katrin Davidsdottir, and Tia-Clair Toomey.
He didn’t deserve the status. He doesn’t deserve the attention. He’ll never be worthy of the notoriety.
Garard stands below even hundreds of thousands of annual CrossFit Open participants who will never receive credit for their good, clean work. Yes, while ranked 96,215th in the world, I think of myself as more fit (at least emotionally) than Ricky Garard.
About Ricky Garard’s Drug Testing
The news broke via press release from CrossFit in October 2017. Ricky Garard, the 23-year-old rookie from Australia, forfeited his third-place title. The press release noted Garard would lose his $76,000 in prize money and received a four-year ban from the sport.
Why Ricky Garard Used
Ricky Garard tested positive for use of Testolon and Endurobol. These are a steroid and a hormonal growth factor. He had cheated his way to a first-place finish in the Madison Triplet and Cyclocross events. His standing as the third-fittest man on earth wasn’t real.
Ricky Garard’s Punishment
As the result, Canadian athlete Patrick Vellner would assume the third-place podium finish.
Garard’s girlfriend Melissa Bevacqua took to Twitter following the suspension. She publicly accepted blame. Her tweets stated she wasn’t reading labels on some of Ricky Garard’s supplements.
“…I blame myself for not doing more research into this (one) particular product we were convinced was okay.” -Melissa Bevacqua
Ricky Garard’s Response
Garard also took to Instagram with multiple messages disparaging the CrossFit organization:
“I have obviously taken the rules & boundaries to the very edge. I looked into, researched & was willing to dabble into ways that could improve my performance legally & within the rules, with no intention whatsoever to be a cheat…sorry to anyone I have affected personally & sorry to anyone that is sharing my pain. I trust that the people closest to me will understand, remain loyal, and be there to support me.” – Ricky Garard
Ricky Garard goes on to imply there are other athletes taking PEDs. He accused CrossFit of not pursuing those accusations. His language states CrossFit is not a legitimate, drug-free sport:
“I really hope the CrossFit Games continues to tighten up their testing procedures, enforcing the same level of strictness to all other competitors like they have to me & they continue to strive towards a legitimate drug free sport.” – Ricky Garard
Analyzing Garard’s Response to Getting Caught
And therein lies a number of problems. Garard first points out that he was willing to test boundaries and that he saw substances as a way to get a leg up on the competition. While supplements like proteins and BCAAs are widely used, Garard was on the hunt for something greater, some form of non-physical boost her could purchase.
Implying he hopes CrossFit continues to tighten up their testing policies also alludes to the fact that Garard wasn’t event well-versed in those policies. They’ve tested podium athletes at the Regional (now Sanctional) and Games level since the earliest days of the sport. CrossFit also randomly tests all athletes at the upper tier of the sport, requiring them to actively report their planned whereabouts on a quarterly basis to aid in the process. He’s not a special case, nor is he a martyr. He’s just the one with behavior dumb enough to tempt an oddly guaranteed fate.
Finally, in response to Ricky’s hope that those closest to him will understand, it seems highly likely he’ll find compassion from his family. His brother, Ben Garard, has failed multiple drug tests, including one as recent as 2019.
CrossFit’s Response to Ricky Garard
Justin Bergh is the the General Manager of the CrossFit Games. In an interview appearance, Bergh discussed Ricky Garard’s accusations that CrossFit hasn’t done their diligence in making the sport fair:
“This is an opportunity for him as an athlete, if he has that information, he can share it with us, he can be a part of the solution…it’s not just ruining the leaderboard; it’s tarnishing the hard work, the talent, the dedication that your fellow competitors have…good clean athletes that are doing the right thing, it’s sullying their reputation and I don’t think it’s fair to them.” – Justin Bergh
Ricky Garard Today
For now, Garard doesn’t appear interested in fading into obscurity. He continues to receive sponsorship deals, join celebrity fitness trips, and participate in non-sanctioned events. All the while he sells his training program (for those who want to get fit quick?)
Yes. I refuse to link to it.
Garard still participates unofficially in the CrossFit Open and has even been bold enough to try to inspire teenagers to get involved with the sport.
This wasn’t the first time CrossFit had caught athletes using performance enhancing drugs, and it definitely wouldn’t be the last. The difference is the boldness of the stupidity and the vastness of ignorance.
For more on steroids, performance enhancing drugs, and other banned substances in the sport of CrossFit, check out our CrossFit PED guide.