FORMER VUELTA WINNER RECEIVES TWO YEAR BAN
The Sports Arbitration Court [CAS] in Switzerland has accepted the UCI’s request that 2002 Tour of Spain winner Aitor Gonzalez should receive a two year ban for use of the steroid metiltestosterone.
Gonzalez, who has now retired from cycling, tested positive for the banned drug on two separate occasions in September 2005. The 31-year-old Spaniard claimed he was innocent and blamed the positive on a contaminated vitamin supplement, Animal Pak.
Tests on a container for this product at a Spanish university confirmed the presence of metiltestosterone and Gonzalez was cleared by the Spanish Cycling Federation.
However, the UCI appealed to CAS over the Federation’s decision. The Swiss-based organisation announced yesterday that Gonzalez could well have unintentionally consumed the banned product, but that “he could not have been unaware of the risks involved in doing so. The product was not prescribed by his normal doctor, the name of the product was at the very least unsettling if not a clear giveaway, and he bought it in a ‘fitness centre’. He did not pay attention to the possible risks of taking such a product.” His ban for two years was therefore confirmed.
Gonzalez, who announced his retirement a few weeks ago, is the third former Vuelta winner - the first being Angel Arroyo in the early 1980s, the second Roberto Heras just last year - to receive a ban for doping.
CAS decision coincided with Lance Armstrong expressing public support for Floyd Landis, who tested positive for testosterone in the 2006 Tour . Speaking to the Belgian press, Armstrong questioned the reliability of the Paris laboratory which had carried out the tests on Landis.