Spaniards Isidro Nozal and Hector Guerra, and Portuguese rider Nuno Ribeiro all failed an anti-doping test for CERA, a form of banned blood booster erythropoetin (EPO), in August.
All three riders were on the Portuguese Liberty Seguros Continental squad, and have been provisionally suspended from competition pending further investigation into the positive result.
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The trio returned a positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator) from an out-of-competition test taken on August 3. The samples were tested in WADA-accredited laboratories in Paris and Lausanne, where traces of CERA were found.
The Union Cycliste International (UCI) confirmed the positive tests on Friday, and sent a request to the Spanish and Portuguese cycling federations requesting that Guerro and Ribeiro be removed from their countries’ respective start lists for the forthcoming UCI road world championships in Switzerland.
It’s not the first time that Nozal has been implicated in a doping investigation. His name came up during the Operacion Puerto organised doping investigation, but was later cleared. Prior to that, Nozal was suspended for two weeks after returning a haematocrit result higher than the permitted 50 per cent before the 2005 Dauphine Libere.
Ribeiro won this year’s Tour of Portugal overall, and Guerra won a stage of the race after the date of the tests. If found guily of doping it is likely that all three riders will be disqualified from the Tour of Portugal and banned from competition for two years.
The three riders can request that their B samples also be tested.