Roberto Heras set to be reinstated as 2005 Vuelta winner after supreme court ruling
Spanish national federation had appealed last year's decision overturning ban
Roberto Heras, once a key team mate of Lance Armstrong at US Postal, is set to be reinstated as winner of the 2005 Vuelta after Spain's supreme court upheld an earlier decision that cleared him of a doping ban which had resulted in him being stripped of the title.
The now retired rider had successfully argued at a civil appeal court last year that correct procedures had not been followed in the storage and testing of his samples. The Spanish government and the national cycling federation, the RFEC, had appealed that verdict to the country's supreme court.
An RFEC spokesman has now said that Heras is likely to get the 2005 Vuelta win back now that the legal process has run its course.
The 2005 Vuelta gave Heras, now aged 38, a record fourth victory in the race, but he was banned for two years and stripped of the win after testing positive for EPO following a test taken on the penultimate day.
The title instead went to Denis Menchov, now riding with Katusha, which has been refused a UCI WorldTour, reportedly on ethical grounds. Those include the apparent implication of some of its riders, said to include Menchov, in the doping ring being investigated by the Padua inquiry in Italy.
Heras won his first Vuelta in 2000 with the Kelme-Costa Blanca team, a year in which he also finished fifth in the Tour de France, before moving to US Postal where he raced from 2001 to 2003, helping Armstrong to three Tour wins and finishing ninth himself in 2002.
A second Vuelta win came in 2003 and the following year, after moving to Liberty Seguros, he would successfully defend his title, and add his fourth 12 months later - the one that he would later be stripped of.
Liberty Seguros would itself be engulfed by the Operacion Puerto scandal the following year, with Alberto Contador among riders placed under investigation but subsequently cleared, while another cyclist on the team's roster at the time, Michele Scarponi, would serve an 18-month ban after admitting doping.
The criminal trial related to the Operacion Puerto case, with defendants including team manager Manolo Saiz and doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, is due to begin in the new year.