Australian Ricky Garard currently sits in first place at the 2022 Crossfit Games – the tournament which marks his return to the top of the sport following a drugs ban.
Garard was handed a suspension and stripped of his third-placed finish at the 2017 Crossfit Games after he tested positive to banned substances.
The then 23-year-old returned a positive test for testolone and endurabol, forcing him out of the sport for four years.
Now eligible to compete again, Garard made the most of his return on the opening two days of competition at Crossfit’s showpiece event.
The Wollongong product finished first in the opening workout, the “bike to work”, before recording finishes of third, fifth and seventh across the next three workouts.
Garard’s history, as well as some confusion among viewers, meant the Aussie wasn’t the most popular athlete in Madison, Wisconsin.
Some fans thought Garard had skipped a lap on the bike, but replays confirmed he’d won fair and square.
How did Ricky Garard beat Jonne Koski? Video evidence from the live broadcast showing him catch up. pic.twitter.com/foEzxrQgPQ
— Morning Chalk Up (@MorningChalkUp) August 3, 2022
— Anders B (@annors) August 3, 2022
Speaking to reporters following day two, Garard said he expected a worse reception from the crowd.
“The fans have been great out there, a lot more than I thought to be honest, it’s awesome, and I’m really having a great time out there and five years worth of energy is coming out in every event,” Garard said.
“I’ve waited a long time for this and it’s finally nice to do a workout that actually means something, not just in the gym.”
Garard currently sits on 461 points overall, well clear of Justin Medeiros (398) and Roman Khrennikov (386).
In the women’s event, fellow Aussie and five-time champion Tia-Clair Toomey sits in third place, 16 points behind leader Mallory O’Brien.