A Spanish cyclist who had a four-year doping ban overturned has once again been sanctioned and prohibited from racing for the same length of time.
Ibai Salas Zorrozua was banned in October 2018 for four years from the sport following the results of six blood samples between January and August 2017 that revealed a number of abnormalities.
But less than five months later, the Administrative Court of Sport of Spain lifted the ban, claiming that the athlete biological passport was not “sufficient to prove the commission of an infringement.”
The ruling prompted the World Anti-Doping Authority to lodge the case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) who this week reinstated the ban on the former Burgos-BH rider.
All results backdated from January 25, 2017 are now null and void, and the 29-year-old will not be able to ride competitively until January 2021.
In a statement, CAS outlined the reasons behind the sanction: “The panel of arbitrators in charge of the matter issued a decision on the basis of the parties’ written submissions.
“The panel, taking into account that (i) the values detected in the Athlete’s ABP were highly abnormal and indicated a high probability of doping;
“(ii) no contradictory evidence existed (i.e., that Ibai Salas Zorrozua did not provide any credible, physiological or pathological reason or condition to explain the abnormality in the ABP values);
“And (iii) the timing of the detection relative to his competitions, held that Ibai Salas Zorrozua committed an anti-doping rule violation and imposed a four-year period of ineligibility.
“Since Ibai Salas Zorrozua was free to compete pending the outcome of this case, the panel determined that the period of ineligibility should commence from the date of the CAS award.”
Doping cases plagued the northern Spanish team in recent years, with Salas, Igor Merino and David Belda all being banned from the sport.
They served a short-term suspension from racing in early 2019 and during a team training camp taught its riders about ethics.
The team most recently competed at their home race, La Vuelta a Burgos.