UCI suspends continental team's licence due to doping investigation

W52-FC Porto cannot compete in any races after an investigation conducted by the Anti-Doping Authority of Portugal

W52-FC Porto UCI doping
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI has, with immediate effect, revoked the licence of Portuguese continental team W52-FC Porto, as a result of an ongoing doping investigation since April 2022. 

The sanction has been imposed in response to information received by the UCI from the Portuguese Anti-Doping Authority, which is conducting the doping investigation. Consequently, W52-FC Porto cannot compete in races, and will therefore miss the Volta a Portugal next month - a race the team has won every year since 2013. 

The Portuguese Cycling Federation issued a statement: "The Portuguese Cycling Federation confirms that it was notified today by the International Cycling Union (UCI) that this entity has decided to withdraw the sports licence from the continental team W52-FC Porto, following the information received by the UCI about the process taking place at the Anti-Doping Authority of Portugal.

"The decision takes effect immediately, so the team is barred from competing again."

Correio da Manhã (opens in new tab) reported in April that doping substances were found in the homes and hotel rooms of ten W52-FC Porto when Portuguese Police searched them. Judicial police stated they had made two arrests - one of them sporting director Nuno Ribeiro - as part of the operation Prova Limpa, which aims to "detect prohibited methods and illegal substances that can falsify the sporting truth in professional cycling events". 

Meanwhile, eight of the 11 riders on the team were subsequently suspended. 

However, this isn't the first time W52-FC Porto has faced doping allegations. 

In March, former rider Raúl Alarcón appealed a four-year suspension for "using prohibited methods and/or using prohibited substances". He lost the case, though, with his suspension upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), meaning he isn't able to race professionally until October 2023. 

W52-FC Porto's licence withdrawal comes at a time when Europol raided Bahrain-Victorious' hotel rooms at the Tour de France, as part of an international operation into "prohibited substances in cycling races". 

The agency confirmed its official searched a total of 14 locations in six countries between June 27 and June 30, with medicines and electronics seized by Danish Police, too. 

The investigation is ongoing, but at the conclusion of the Tour de France, Bahrain Victorious' general manager Milan Eržen defended his team, claiming there is little basis for the operation. 

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.