Portuguese pro cyclist Pedro Lopes has been given a 15 year ban by his national federation after being found guilty of a series of doping violations for the second time in his career. If it stands, and there is no sign that Lopes will appeal, then the ban will be the longest imposed on a pro-rider to date and made to stick. Given that Lopes is 35 years old it also easily equates to a lifetime ban from the sport with a few years on top just to make sure.
Interestingly Lopes conviction and ban did not follow a failed drugs test, his national federation instead banned him for failing to notify doping authorities of his whereabouts three times in 18 months, thus making himself unavailable for testing.
15 years is not the longest doping ban handed down to a cyclist, that dubious distinction belongs to the former Liquigas rider Gianni Da Ros who was given a 20 year ban by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) for trafficking in HGH (human growth hormone). However it is the longest ban so far imposed that is likely to be served - the Da Ros ban was cut to four years on appeal by the Court for Arbitration in Sport.
While Lopes career was hardly stellar he was the 2004 Portuguese road race champion before being stripped of that title for a failed drugs test the same year. He also rode for his country at the 1996 Olympics and at the 2002 and 2003 world championships, he also won a stage of the Tour of Portugal. His racing career was largely confined to the Iberian peninsula and the biggest name team he rode for was LA Liberty Seguros – a Portuguese team sponsored by the same insurance company as the former Once outfit managed by Manolo Sainz and, as it turned out, the same unhappy record of doping scandals – three of its riders tested positive in 2009.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.