Chris Froome could be crowned the winner of the 2011 Vuelta a España after Juan José Cobo has been caught doping.
The UCI has announced that the former Movistar rider was found guilty of doping from 2009 and 2011, based on abnormalities in his biological passport.
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Retired rider Cobo has been banned for three years after the UCI’s Anti-Doping Tribunal ruled he had committed an anti-doping rule violation.
Cobo was the winner of the 2011 Vuelta ahead of Froome (then Sky Procycling), with Spanish media reporting that he will be stripped of the victory.
The 38-year-old can appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and has one month to do so.
A statement from the cycling’s international governing body the UCI, published on Thursday afternoon (June 13), said: “The UCI announces that the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal has rendered its decision in the case involving Juan José Cobo Acebo.
“The Anti-Doping Tribunal found the retired rider guilty of an anti-doping rules violation (use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his biological passport and imposed a three-year period of ineligibility on the rider.”
Cobo won the 2011 Vuelta while rider for Professional Continental outfit Geox-TMC Transformers, finishing just 13 seconds ahead of Froome and 1-39 ahead of Bradley Wiggins in third.
Froome is currently in intensive care after he suffered multiple injuries in a horrific crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
After falling heavily during a recon of the stage four time trial course at the Dauphiné, the 34-year-old suffered fractures to his pelvis, femur, elbow, and ribs, and underwent surgery just hours after the crash.
The following year he joined Movistar, before moving down to continental outfit Torku Sekerspor in 2014 and then leaving the sport that year.
He took 10 pro wins during his career, including the overall at the Vuelta al País Vasco in 2007 and a stage of the Tour de France in 2008.
The UCI did not state what banned substance Cobo is believed to have taken, because the positive was found indirectly through his biological passport.
The passport is an electronic record for each rider, in which the results of all doping tests are collected and collated over a period of time, so any abnormalities caused by doping can be detected.