Spanish Climber Iban Mayo tested positive for banned blood boosting drug EPO during the Tour de France, it was announced on Monday night via a press release (in full below) issued by his team, Saunier Duval.

Mayo is a team-mate of Britain’s David Millar, and has in the past been outspoken in his criticism of doping in professional cycling. The Spaniard has been suspended by the team pending the results of tests on his B sample.

Mayo was tested during the second rest day in the Pyrenees. The sample returned a positive for erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates the body to produce more red blood cells, enabling more oxygen to be carried to muscles and therefore better performance in the mountains.

It’s the latest drug-related scandal to hit a high profile rider at this year’s event, and yet another body blow to the Tour.

Mayo’s positive test for EPO joins Alexandre Vinokourov’s positive for blood transfusion and Cristian Moreni’s positive for testosterone during the race. Patrik Sinkewitz was also excluded from the race as it was announced during the event that he had tested positive for testosterone in June.

Michael Rasmussen was also sensationally sacked by his Rabobank squad and kicked out of the race whilst in the leader’s jersey for lying about his whereabouts during training in June. He missed four out-of-competition dope controls, and had told his team that this was due to communication problems as he was training in Mexico, but it later transpired that he was in Italy at the time.

Mayo finished the 2007 Tour in 16th place overall.

Saunier Duval’s official statement in full:
OFFICIAL STATEMENT
SAUNIER DUVAL-PRODIR team official statement.
30/07/2007

The SAUNIER DUVAL-PRODIR team were notified by the International Cycling Union (UCI) that Iban Mayo had tested positive for EPO following a test on July 24, which was a rest day on the Tour de France.

In line with the fight against doping that the team fully support, the rider was immediately suspended without pay until the B sample has been tested. If this is confirmed as positive as well, the team will proceed to rescind his contract.