A former World Road Champion is among five riders fingered by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in its investigations into blood doping.
Spain’s Igor Astarloa, the 2003 world champion, with fellow countrymen Ruben Lobato Elvira and Ricardo Serrano Gonzalez, are facing disciplinary proceedings after the UCI discovered ‘suspicious data’ in their biological passports.
Two Italians, Pietro Caucchiolo and Francesco De Bonis, have also been named by the UCI and have been suspended from their teams pending further investigations.
Last week, the UCI promised to name and shame riders allegedly involved in blood doping and seem to have made good their promise.
However, UCI president Pat McQuaid said last week that no immediate suspensions would be announced because it was down to the teams themselves to hand out initial penalties.
Of the five riders, only Caucchioli belongs to a ProTour team, Lampre, and was a possible starter for next month's Tour de France.
He was suspended by his team, although Lampre said Caucchioli had been disciplined because of a doping violation which occurred last season.
"Team Lampre has suspended Caucchioli, according to the employment contract and to the internal rules of the team," the Italian team said.
Anne Gripper, the UCI anti-doping manager, called for tough sanctions.
Speaking from the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, she said: "This is wilful manipulation (of their blood). We want four-year suspensions as per the WADA regulations."