Astarloza faces two-year ban for EPO

Euskaltel-Euskadi protest rider's innocence after B sample tests positive

by Simon_MacMichael   September 9, 2009  

Mikel Astarloza wins stage 16 TdF 2009 (© Photosport Intl)

Spanish UCI ProTour team Euskaltel-Euskadi has said that it will continue to stand by its rider Mikel Astarloza, despite the confirmation of his positive test for EPO announced after this year’s Tour de France following analysis of the B sample.

Astarloza, who won Stage 16 of the race and finished 11th overall, received a provisional suspension on 31 July after an A sample taken in an out-of-competition test on 26 June, before the Tour began,  was found to be positive – or, as Euskaltel-Euskadi describes it, “non-negative”.

The team, based in the Basque country, from where it also draws its riders and sponsors, said in a press release on its website that it wasn’t surprised at the positive – sorry, “non-negative” – result, given that “it was leaked to the media a few days ago”.
It added that it had faith in Astarloza’s innocence, and that it would seek to prove that with the help of its lawyers.

Euskaltel-Euskadi – minus the suspended Astarloza, who is now set to receive a two-year ban from the sport – is among the teams that will line up in Scunthorpe on Saturday for Stage 1 of the Tour of Britain.