The Burgos-BH team has suspended itself from its first two races of the 2019 season following a recent spate of positive doping tests. The Spanish Pro Continental outfit has announced that it has pulled out of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo and the Challenge Mallorca in January and February of next year.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, team manager Julio Andrés Izquierdo said that the team will instead hold a three-week camp in that period, during which it will work on an internal anti-doping policy.
"We have decided to voluntarily carry out a self-suspension from competition to dedicate ourselves exclusively to the prevention of doping," Izquierdo said. "This gathering will last for three weeks where training, seminars and meetings with anti-doping specialists will take place."
The Burgos-BH statement noted that the team had already notified the UCI of its intention to remove itself from the first two races on its 2019 calendar. Earlier this month, the UCI announced that Burgos-BH risked a mandatory suspension of up to 45 days after three of its riders committed anti-doping rules violations within the space of 12 months.
The matter has been referred to the UCI Disciplinary Commission, and it remains to be seen if the body will hand down a further sanction on top of the team's self-suspension.
In December 2017, David Belda was handed a four-year ban after testing positive for EPO in two separate out-of-competition controls in March 2017. In the past month, two further Burgos-BH riders were formally handed bans of equal length. Ibai Salas was banned for four years after anomalies were detected in his biological passport, while Igor Meriño received the same sanction after testing positive for human growth hormone this summer.
Burgos-BH began as a Continental team over a decade ago before stepping up to Pro Continental level in 2018, when it was among the four squads to earn a wildcard invitation to the Vuelta a España.
Inzquierdo said that the team would roll out a new regimen of internal testing for the 2019 season.
"So far we have focused on the biological passport and the ADAMS, but in 2019 we want to go further," he said. "We will do internal controls to have an exact knowledge of each one of our riders. At Burgos-BH we have always taken the fight against doping very seriously."