February 10, 2006 – Spanish rider Roberto Heras says he will contest his two-year racing ban the Spanish Cycling Association announced this past Wednesday. Heras has decided to contest the ban to defend his name and honour against charges he used the banned blood booster EPO.
The main argument adopted by Heras’s legal team is the evidence of inconsistencies in the testing procedure that could have triggered a false positive. Heras and his legal team are considering challenging the ruling both in the Court of Arbitration in Sport as well as Spanish civil court.
In his own words, Heras stated earlier today that, “It’s not difficult to imagine my discomfort with this federation resolution and the truly indefensible position that I am in. I cannot accept that my name, my dignity and that all of my family will remain marked by an analysis that doesn’t offer any type of guarantees. I have participated in nine editions of the Vuelta. I won four and I was second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth and I had 36 days as race leader and I always did it with rigor and honesty – and there are more than 50 blood and urine controls that I passed during those years to prove it.”
According to current anti-doping rules, Herras will only be able to return to racing in 2008; however he will not be able to return to a UCI Pro-Tour team until 2010 . Herras’s former team Liberty Seguros fired him upon learning of his failed EPO test, which occurred in the second-last stage of the 2005 Vuelta – a race he won a record fourth time. Additionally, the Spanish cycling federation has also stripped Herras of two stage wins – Valdelinares and Pajares – and his overall victory for the Vuelta a Espana 2005. The title of the 2005 Vuelta a Espana has since been bestowed on Denis Menchov (Rabobank); Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) has since been placed as finishing second and Francisco Mancebo has been placed as third.