2018 Vuelta a San Juan winner banned for four years after CERA positive

Argentina’s Gonzalo Najar suspended until 2022

Surprise Vuelta a San Juan winner Gonzalo Najar has been banned for four years after his positive test for the blood-booster CERA was confirmed by the UCI.

Najar won the overall classification the Vuelta a San Juan in January after winning atop the Alto de Colorado on stage 5. His win surprised many as he distanced former doper Oscar Sevilla, Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Dayer Quintana (Movistar). Najar went on to win the overall classification 51 seconds ahead of Sevilla.

Najar has not raced on the road at international level since the Vuelta a San Juan. He was informed of the case in early May, with his SEP San Juan team later issuing a 300-word statement defending Najar, revealing the UCI used his B sample to determine the presence of CERA.

The team promised to fight the case and that of Gaston Javier, who also failed a doping test at the race - in this case for an anabolic steroid, knowing they faced a team ban from competition of 15-45 days for two failed tests within a 12-month period. However the UCI quietly confirmed that Najar had been banned for four years by adding his name to the “Consequences Imposed on License-Holders as Result of Anti-Doping Rule Violations” page on the UCI website.

It explains that the Anti-Doping rule Violation occurred on January 21, with the four year-ban beginning on May 2. Najar will be able to return to competition if he wishes after May 2, 2022. Najar has the right to appeal the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In another anti-doping case, Brazilian André de Souza Almeida has also been banned for four years for using prohibited methods and substances. He cannot compete again until January 30, 2022.

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