Luis Villalobos given four-year doping ban by UCI for growth hormone use

The Mexican rider is suspended until May 17, 2024

Luis Villalobos doping ban UCI
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mexican rider Luis Villalobos has been found guilty by the UCI anti-doping tribunal of using growth hormone GHRP-6, and has received a four-year suspension with retroactive effect.

Banned until May 17, 2024, Villalobos' positive case relates to a sample from April 25, 2019, when he was under contract with Continental team Aveolo. However, it took over a year for the prohibited substance to be detected, by which time he had moved to WorldTour team EF Education First Pro Cycling in August 2019 on a three-year deal. 

The UCI subsequently informed the team about a potential doping violation through an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF), and provisionally suspended him from racing. EF Pro Cycling then suspended the 23-year-old indefinitely in May 2020. 

A UCI statement said: “The Tribunal found the rider guilty of an anti-doping rule violation (presence of GHRP-6*) and imposed a four-year period of ineligibility on the rider. 

"In accordance with the Procedural Rules of the Tribunal, the decision will shortly be published on the UCI website.”

GHRP-6 is used to speed up weight loss and increase muscle mass, and is on the World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) prohibited list. 

After Villalobos was found guilty, EF Pro Cycling team manager, Jonathan Vaughters, said: "If we'd have known, we would not have signed Luis.

“The burden of this is on the UCI because there is no internal testing program that has access to the level of equipment needed to screen for GHRP-6."

He added: “This team was set up to protect the health and the rights of riders across the sport, particularly the younger riders as they entered the professional level. It’s hugely upsetting for us when these young riders fall under the guidance of amateur doctors and trainers who ultimately ruin their careers."

Villalobos won the national time trial in Mexico in 2018 and 2019, and at the 2018 Tour of Utah he secured the youth classification prize after finishing in the top-ten overall.

He raced for Aveolo for 18 months between 2017 and 2019, before completing his switch to EF Pro Cycling. During his time competing at WorldTour level, Villalobos raced at the Tour of Poland, Tour of Britain, EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg and Bretagne Classic in 2019.

His final two races before his suspension from the team came at the Tour de la Provence and the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var.