Vacansoleil-DCM has provisionally suspended Russian rider Nikita Novikov after a urine sample taken in an out-of competition test on 17 May found traces of Hydroxy-ostarine / O-dephenyl-ostarin. The Dutch WorldTour team has said that should his B sample prove positive, he will be sacked.
The 23-year-old, a junior world champion in the points race, joined the Dutch team in 2012 following overall victories in the Tour of Slovakia and the Tour de Savoie the previous season.
In a statement on the team website, Vacansoleil-DCM manager Daan Luijkx said: “At the end of 2011 we hired this young talent for two years.
“Since that time he didn’t manage to reach his old level in our environment despite all the efforts of our team.
“It needs no clarification that as a team we are devastated by this. As a team you try to give your riders a safe environment with good coaching and staff and that makes it very disappointing when a rider does something wrong, like it appears this is the case now.
“When I talked to the rider last night, after the UCI informed us, he said he had no idea how the substance got in his body.”
Luijkx added: “I strongly believe the sport is on his way up and I am sorry for the sport that this happens but it is good that possible breaches of the rules are traced.”
The news comes at a parttcularly bad time for the team following the revelation last month that neither camping holiday specialists Vacansoleil nor fertiliser company DCM will be renewing their sponsorship beyond the end of this season.
Previously, the team has been caught up in two high-profile doping scandals, first when Ezekiel Mosquera, who had joined it after finishing second in the 2010 Vuelta, tested positive for using a masking agent during that race. Mosquera never raced for the team, and was eventually banned for two years in November 2011.
In February 2011, the team fired Riccardo Riccò after the controversial Italian had been hospitalised following a botched self-administered blood transfusion at his home. Vacansoleil had come under criticism after signing the controversial Italian the previous August.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.