Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation requests information relating to Sergio Henao's blood values between August 2011 and June 2015

Team Sky has voluntarily withdrawn Colombian rider Sergio Henao from racing as his biological passport values are investigated by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF).

Team Sky issued a statement on Wednesday morning saying that Henao had been contacted by CADF to request information relating to his biological passport between August 2011 and June 2015. CADF is responsible for the Union Cycliste Internationale’s anti-doping programme.

Henao had previously been withdrawn from racing in March 2014 after anomalies in his biological passport were flagged up. Sky commissioned independent research into Henao’s values – specifically relating to altitude training – and he returned to racing in June 2014.

“After completing their research, the experts had the highest level of confidence that the readings which prompted us to undertake further testing were the athlete’s normal response to altitude,” read the statement.

“Sergio has this week been contacted by the CADF with a request for more information with regards to readings on his Athlete Blood Passport between August 2011 to June 2015. These include the same readings which prompted us to undertake further research in 2014.

>>> Sergio Henao: questions on out-of-competition tests

“Given the team had drawn the attention of anti-doping authorities to the issue at the time, this does not come as a surprise.

“Sergio has not failed a drug test and the CADF process is conducted confidentially.

“We continue to support Sergio and remain confident in the independent scientific research which was undertaken. We will be helping Sergio make his case robustly over the coming period. He will also withdraw from racing until the issue is resolved given this contact from the CADF and the very obvious distraction to him. There is no obligation on us to do this but it is team policy if and when a formal process such as this begins.”

Sergio Henao after stage five of the 2016 Tour of The Basque Country

Sergio Henao after stage five of the 2016 Tour of The Basque Country

The 28-year-old had been named on Sky’s squad for Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne in Belgium, but has been withdrawn from the race.

Shortly after Henao returned to racing in June 2014 he suffered a crash during the Tour de Suisse and broke his kneecap. He returned from injury in March 2015 and has steadily been returning to condition. This season he placed third overall at the Tour Down Under and second overall in the Tour of the Basque Country.

Team Sky principal, Sir Dave Brailsford said: “The physiology of ‘altitude natives’ is a complex area. The science is limited and in recent years we have proactively sought to understand it better by undertaking detailed scientific research – both for Sergio and for the benefit of clean sport more widely.

>>> Sergio Henao returns to racing after altitude tests

“We recognise why the CADF have raised this issue as it is one we have obviously raised ourselves. Thus far Sergio’s data has been anonymous to the CADF experts. We hope and believe they will reach the same conclusions when they consider the background and all the evidence over the coming weeks.

“We believe in Sergio. He has just come back to full fitness after spending eight months recovering from a potentially career ending crash. But we respect the CADF process and will apply our team policy in the circumstances.

“We will continue to support him fully during this period so he can get back to racing as soon as possible.”

  • Conrad

    Where do the anti-doping organisations get their money from then?

    Sky are behaving responsibly here, they’ve removed him from competition and are stumping up cash for research. As long as the results are available for widespread scrutiny it shouldn’t matter who funds it. Ultimately the CADF will have an opinion.

  • phill

    Uci or an anti-doping organisation

  • Nomad

    Microdosing EPO doesn’t flag the ABP:

    Micheal Ashenden co-authored a paper that showed microdosing increases Hb mass by ~10% (equivalent to approx. 2 bags of reinfused blood) without flagging the ABP. (“Current markers of the Athlete Blood Passport do not flag microdose EPO doping.” Ashenden et al./Eur J Appl Physiol/2011).

    So, wasn’t JTL “flagged” on his ABP with a very high Off-score?

  • markholds

    All research needs funding. Anyone who funds it will have an interest in it. So no research is ever truly independent. Do you have a better suggestion?

  • phill

    That isn’t my concern, my point is if sky funded the reasearch it isn’t truly independent

  • John Westwell

    What would you suggest instead? Sky withdrew him from racing voluntarily when his blood values were questioned originally. They seem to have been pretty transparent about the process then, and I can’t see any difference this time. There is a well-documented link between training at altitude the moving back to sea level and seeing an increase in red blood cell counts. So the case will rest on showing that the fluctuations coincide with returning to sea-level after being in Colombia.

  • phill

    That doesn’t sound truly independent then if they funded it

  • Gunner Grimpeur

    JTL was micro dosing. Proven fact

  • markholds

    So far they’ve given him a lot of support. For whatever reason, they gave little or none to JTL.

  • markholds

    Yes

  • phill

    Sky commisioned independent research?

  • Sheldon

    Will they give him the same support as JTL?

  • markholds

    So sad about this…
    (Unless it’s true, in which case I’ll hate him!)