By Nigel Wynn
Colombian Sergio Henao has been removed from competition by Team Sky for at least eight weeks after questions were raised by the team's internal out-of-competition control tests.
Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport ran a piece on Wednesday morning quoting Henao's agent as saying that the rider had 'anomalous values'. Sky then issued a statement, saying that "Sergio Henao has been taken off Team Sky’s race schedule and is set to return to Colombia for an altitude research programme".
Sky team principal Dave Brailsford said: "In our latest monthly review, our experts had questions about Sergio’s out-of-competition control tests at altitude - tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities. We need to understand these readings better."
The exact nature of the tests of their results has not been revealed by any party so far.
"We contacted the relevant authorities - the UCI and CADF – pointed to these readings and asked whether they could give us any insights," continued Brailsford. "We've also taken Sergio out of our race programme whilst we get a better understanding of these profiles and his physiology."
"We want to do the right thing and we want to be fair. It’s important not to jump to conclusions."
"Once we have completed our assessment, we’ll decide on the right steps and give a full update."
According to Sky, Henao returns to Colombia during the winter, where he lives at altitude. During this period, Henao underwent WADA-accredited out-of-competition tests.
Henao joined Sky in 2012, and has taken part in hilly races and provided support in Grand Tours. Last season he won stages in the Tour of the Algarve and Tour of Basque Country, as well as placing second in Fleche Wallonne.
On Wednesday afternoon the Union Cycliste Interntionale issued the following statement:
"UCI statement on the withdrawal of Sergio Henao by Team Sky. As a matter of principle the UCI is supportive of teams pursuing a policy of closely monitoring their athletes. If a team has any concerns, then the appropriate course of action may well be to withdraw the rider from its race schedule whilst it continues investigations."
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