Roberto Heras is suing the Spanish national cycling federation, the RFEC, and the government sports panel CSD for €1 million in relation to his two-year ban for a positive test for EPO in the 2005 Vuelta, subsequently overturned on a technicality.
Heras, who that year won the Vuelta for the fourth time only to see his title given to Denis Menchov retired following the ban and is claiming compensation for loss of earnings, reports Spanish sports daily AS.
RFEC president Jose Luis Lopez Cerron confirmed to Bloomberg that Heras had sent a fax notifying it of his action, and said the governing body hadn’t yet had a chance to formulate its response. The government has confirmed it intends to contest the former professional cyclist’s claim.
Last year, Heras won a supreme court case concerning an appeal by the Spanish government and the RFEC against an earlier decision that correct procedures had not been followed in the storage and testing of his sample, which had been taken on the penultimate day of the race.
Following that decision, delivered shortly before Christmas, the RFEC said it was likely that Heras, now aged 39, would be reinstated as the 2005 Vuelta winner, but to date that has not happened.
In November, race director Javier Guillen said that Vuelta organisers Unipublic considered Heras to be the winner of that year’s edition, and said they were urging the RFEC and UCI to reinstate him as the official winner.
Heras’s first Vuelta victory came in 2000 when he rode with Kelme-Costa Blanca, moving to US Postal for 2001-03, helping Lance Armstrong win three of the seven Tour de France titles he was stripped of last year.
In his final year at US Postal, Heras won his second Vuelta and 12 months later, now with Liberty Seguros, clinched his third. The 2005 win therefore represented the completion of a hat-trick of wins – until it was taken away from him.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.