André Cardoso has said he will fight his four-year doping ban given to him by the UCI, a sanction which has effectively ended his career.
Cardoso, now 34, tested positive for blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition test on June 18, 2017, and was provisionally suspended by the UCI a day before the Tour de France of that year, which he was due to ride with his team Trek-Segafredo.
In a case that has been fought out for over a year, the UCI finally announced last Friday that Cardoso would be banned.
In a lengthy Facebook post, the Portuguese rider hit back at the announcement, maintaining is innocence and vowing to fight on.
“I’m doing my best to control my anger, but I’m totally disappointed with the confirmation,” Cardoso said.
“I’ve been fighting this for 16 months, but from the beginning it was clear that the UCI wanted to make me an example to set a precedent to sanction athletes with a sample A, ignoring due process.”
Cardoso claims that while his A-sample returned a positive test, his B-sample was ‘inconclusive’. The Swiss laboratory called the sample ‘atypical’.
He also claimed that the UCI “hired one of Switzerland’s main law offices and practically all the specialist doctors who could help us prove our case.
“Why did they do that in a case they claim to be completely clear? If it were a simple case, it would be closed quickly.”
“I would also like to point out that the test out of competition in question was held outside my designated schedule and that I opened the door knowing who was there. If I was involved in something illegal, I could have just stayed in without fear of repercussions,” Cardoso added.
“I know that does not prove my innocence but I would like to think that it shows how open and involved I have always been in the fight against doping.”
Cardoso, who began his career in 2006, rode for Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale team at WorldTour level between 2014 and 2016, before moving to Trek at the start of the 2017 season.
He said in his post that he was now seeking impartial examination of the case from Dr Douwe De Boer, an anti-doping expert in the Netherlands. Cardoso added that he was trying to raise funds for a legal battle against the ban and that he “felt responsible” for the anguish brought to his friends and family because of the situation.
“The fact that I know that this has caused grief to my family, friends and teammates makes the situation even worse, because I feel responsible for their anguish, even though I have done nothing wrong. Having said that, I would like to apologize to them again and tell them that they were not wrong to trust me and that I deeply regret the fact that they were dragged into this very stressful and sad
“At this point, I need to consider all options, but I intend to raise funds for a legal battle and continue to work to prove my innocence,” he said.
“For me, it is also a question of justice, because unless you have the financial resources of a great cyclist, it is impossible to fight.
“The fact that I know that this has caused grief to my family, friends and team-mates makes the situation even worse, because I feel responsible for their anguish, even though I have done nothing wrong.
“Having said that, I would like to apologize to them again and tell them that they were not wrong to trust me and that I deeply regret the fact that they were dragged into this very stressful and sad [situation].”