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Ex-world champion Igor Astarloa banned for two years for blood passport irregularities

Basque rider announced retirement earlier this year, but €35,000 fine will hit his pocket

Former World Road Race Champion Igor Astarloa has been banned for two years after irregularities were found in his blood passport. While the effect of that ban is negligible, given that the Spaniard retired from the sport in January 2010 after failing to secure a new contract with the case hanging over him, the 34-year-old will also be punished by the imposition of a €35,000 fine.

The news was confirmed in a statement this morning from world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, which outlined the sanction imposed by the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, with the ban running until 26 November 2012.

Questions over Astarloa’s blood values first arose in May 2008 when he was sacked by the German team, Milram, which he had joined the previous year from Barloworld. After Milram, he rode for Amica-Chips Knauf, but shortly after that team collapsed in May 2009 he was named by cycling’s governing body, the UCI, as one of five riders who had failed to meet criteria laid out in the biological passport programme.

The Basque rider began his career with Mercatone Uno in 2000, joining Saeco two years later. In 2003, he won the Fleche Wallonne and followed that by winning the World Championship in Hamilton, the same year that Britain’s David Millar won the Time Trial only to be stripped of the title after being banned for doping.

Astarloa never recaptured the form he showed that year, and the season he spent in the rainbow jersey was marked by his being released in April by Cofidis, which he had signed for ahead of the World Championships, as the French team briefly suspended its operations after becoming embroiled in doping allegations surrounding current and former team riders and staff.

The cyclist rode for the Italian team Lampre for the rest of that season before moving to Barloworld, in whose colours he won his final pro victory, Milano-Torino, in 2006.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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