Spanish cyclist Alberto Gallego, who failed an anti-doping test three days into his professional career, blamed contamination yesterday for his positive result.
Gallego signed for Spanish Pro Continental team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA after a successful year in the continental ranks that netted several top 10 placings in stage races. However, a pre-season test on January 3 revealed the substance Stanzolol, a metabolite of testosterone, in his body.
"After checking again all the supplement products that have used in recent years, I am more than clear that there is no Stanzolol written on any of the labels, so the amino acids, proteins and carbohydrates that that I took do not have Stanzolol," he wrote in an open letter published on Biciciclismo.
"Therefore, I have only the option of assuming that I was the victim of contamination in the laboratory. With that I will seek a counter-analysis of my urine B sample while having the amino acids, carbohydrates and proteins that have taken in recent months analyzed. For me, it is obvious that if I have not taken anything consciously and it is not on the label, I'm a victim."
Ben Johnson tested positive for the same anabolic steroid during the 1988 Olympics. Soon after the news broke, Caja Rual fired Gallego.
"I did not know what kind of substance it was, and now I found out that Stanzolol is a typical product for a bodybuilder, not a professional cyclist, and also is a product that always leaves traces in the body for many weeks," Gallego added.
"In my case, it is illogical to think that I have used that product to improve my performance. Personal ethics or common sense aside, it would clearly give a positive control and not improve my performance."
The 25-year-old will have to sit out and wait for laboratory analysis of his B sample. He explained that he would undergo further tests if needed.
"It is objective of the Spanish anti-doping agency and the other institutions to punish cheaters, but also to help riders who do not have many financial resources and who have never used performance-enhancing drugs," Gallego said.
If the positive anti-doping test is confirmed, Gallego faces a likely two-year suspension from sport.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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