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.
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.