The former team of EF Pro Cycling rider Luis Villalobos say they are “blindsided and heartbroken” by his suspected doping positive.
Villalobos returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for growth hormone while he was still riding for US Continental squad Aevolo in April 2019, before he transferred EF Pro Cycling in August.
The UCI announced on Monday (May 18) that the 21-year-old had returned the AAF during an out of competition test, after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) analysed the sample.
Aevolo said they have been “in a daze” since hearing of the possible doping positive and said the team was unaware that WADA was conducting the analysis.
Team director Michael Creed said: “I’m blindsided and heartbroken. I want to know how this happened and I hope that Luis can help us with that by being open and honest. “
Villalobos joined Aevolo for the 2017 season and racked up a collection of impressive results in the US, most notably taking the youth classification in the 2018 Tour of Utah, where he finished eighth overall.
He also claimed back-to-back wins in the Mexican National Championships time trial in 2018 and 2019.
After joining EF in August last year, Villalobos rode the Tour of Poland and the Tour of Britain, going on to start his 2020 season in France before racing was suspended due to coronavirus.
Aevolo co-director Jono Coulter said: “We have been in a bit of a daze since hearing the news this morning.
“This team prides itself on developing athletes as cyclists and fine young people, this is just a kick in the guts.”
EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters has raised concerns over how long it took the UCI to announce Villalobos had returned an AAF, saying his team would not have signed the rider if they had known.
Villalobos has been suspended by the UCI, but still has the right to request that his B sample be opened and analysed before the governing body makes a full decision.