Delko rider banned for doping says he tested positive after eye surgery 

The UCI banned Atsushi Oka for four months after he was found to have a banned eye medication in his system

(Image credit: Corbis via Getty Images)

A Delko rider banned for doping has said he tested positive after having eye surgery. 

Atsushi Oka, who has ridden for the French ProTeam since 2020, has been banned by the UCI for four months after he tested positive for a banned substance in December last year. 

The 25-year-old, who hasn’t raced since September, was added to the UCI’s banned rider list after he was found to have the eye medication acetazolamide in his system during a test at the end of the season. 

In a statement released on social media Japanese pro Oka, the winner of one stage of the 2019 Tour of Japan, said the doping test took place four days after he had eye surgery in his home country.

Oka tested positive for the medication acetazolamide, sold under the trade name Diamox, which is an eye medication used in the treatment of glaucoma. 

The substance is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a diuretic and masking agent.

Oka’s ban was backdated until January 2021, so will come to an end on May 25.  

Oka said: “It is important for me to point out that the control took place four days after an eye surgery that took place on December 9 in Japan, retaining acetazolamide absorption, a substance that comes from the Diamox [trade name for the drug] that was given to me during the procedure to prevent intraocular pressure spike, which may lead to partial or total visual field defect. 

“I have never used prohibited substances myself. The UCI accepted that it was unintentional and used for eye surgery treatment, I voluntarily accepted this suspension.

“I will come back on May 25 stronger and determined to return to the peloton."

Delko has not yet responded to Oka’s ban.

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The squad are not the only ProTeam dealing with the fall-out of a doping ban, as Vini Zabù are currently serving a team-wide ban from racing after two of their riders tested positive within the space of 12 months. 

The Italian squad is now crowdfunding to pay for better anti-doping controls within the team, after they were forced to pull out of the Giro d’Italia as a result of the positives.