Roman Kreuziger out of Tour de France after biological passport problem
Roman Kreuziger withdrawn from racing by Tinkoff-Saxo after biological passport irregularities
Roman Kreuziger will miss a chance to help Alberto Contador at the Tour de France and likely face a disciplinary hearing due to abnormalities with his anti-doping biological passport. His Tinkoff-Saxo team said on Saturday that it will temporarily stop him from competing.
Team Tinkoff-Saxo said in a statement: "The team has decided, in agreement with Roman, that he will not ride in any races including this year's Tour de France until more information becomes available."
The 28-year-old from the Czech Republic told Cycling Weekly last year that he worked with banned doctor, Michele Ferrari in the past. He said that it was only for training and responded "no, never" when asked if he ever doped.
He will have to explain his passport to the UCI now and will not have time to do so before the Tour de France starts on July 5 in Leeds. The ball already has begun rolling, however, according to statements from the Danish team and the cyclist this Saturday afternoon.
The biological passport tracks blood and urine values over time to ensure a rider is racing clean. If there are abnormalities, it can stop a cyclist and ask him to explain the problem. Sky's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke had to stop last September and has yet to return to racing while the process continues.
Team Tinkoff said it heard from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) that an expert panel examined Kreuziger's biological passport values in the 2011 season and in 2012, through the Giro d'Italia in May. Last year, June 28, 2013, he received a letter saying there were problems and gave an explanation to the UCI on October 3, 2013. The team explained that he next heard from the UCI on May 30, 2014.
"When Roman Kreuziger received the first notice by the end of June 2013, he promptly informed the team about the letter," the team's statement read. "He was adamant that he never used doping methods or substances.
"Through our own medical staff and independent verification the team was satisfied that Roman's blood profile had valid medical and scientific explanations other than the use of doping methods or substances. This was subsequently confirmed by the expert opinions Roman shared with the team."
The UCI opts to seek an explanation from a rider on the recommendation of an independent panel of scientific experts. If that panel does not accept the explanation the UCI will look to open an anti-doping rule violation agasint the rider.
Sky stopped its rider Sergio Henao this year due to biological passport problems and allowed him to resume racing after further testing answered the team's concerns. However, the UCI did not officially contact Henao. In Kreuziger's case, the abnormalities would bring about a doping ban if his explanation is insufficient.
Kreuziger said that he explained the process and sought independent experts to review his passport. He added that he asked the UCI for an extension, past the end of June 30 this month, but was not allowed one and was forced to stop racing.
"I informed my team of this procedure and informed them that I had not taken any forbidden substances or used any forbidden methods and that I was determined to challenge any differing construction of the facts," he said.
"I intend to defend myself in the appropriate quarters, even by the more expedite legal proceeding, in order to establish in the fastest possible way the truth in this matter."
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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