Euskaltel-Euskadi has announced that they will conduct a programme of internal doping controls throughout the 2010 season. Spanish newspaper Marca reported that the Basque team would aim for greater transparency after two of its riders returned positive doping tests in 2009.
Euskaltel riders Iñigo Landaluze and Mikel Astarloza both returned positive tests during the 2009 season. Landaluze tested positive for EPO-CERA during the Dauphiné-Libéré and Astarloza returned a positive result for EPO in a test carried out prior to the 2009 Tour de France, where he won stage 16 of the race.
The squad's newly appointed team manager Igor González de Galdeano and his predecessor Miguel Madariaga explained that the extra measures had been designed to protect the future of the team.
"We want to have real data of what may be happening on specific moments in order to make decisions - drastic decisions if necessary - before we reach the edge," said González de Galdeano.
"We had two dark spots this season. Our riders were subject to 700 tests this season; this gives us an idea, but we cannot be certain of what the cyclists may be doing. So we've decided, together with our sponsors, to pursue a new project to give us control, though we feel it will also help the riders."
Although the team did not release full details of the programme, the new anti-doping measures will begin on January 1 next year with "an independent laboratory to take responsibility for internal controls."
José Antonio Ardanza, President of the team's sponsor Euskaltel, said the measures were necessary to ensure trust between the two organisations. However, he confirmed that the telecommunications company had no plans to withdraw their now 17-year support for the ProTour team. "We still have full confidence, we remain and will continue to do so," he said.
Euskaltel team captain Samuel Sánchez expressed his support for his team's new anti-doping programme, but took the opportunity to challenge other sports to match cycling's efforts to combat doping.
"There are already very comprehensive programs such as the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) [an online system that incorporates athletes' whereabouts information – ed], but all teams want their own data and I understand that" said Sánchez. "Cycling is the most controlled sport and I think other sports need to match us. We should be proud of the effort cycling is making; there is no need to hide anything."
The announcement of Euskaltel's new anti-doping measures came as part of the team's first meeting for the 2010 season at their headquarters in Derio, Spain. The entire squad will remain together until December 3.
|Sergio de Lis|
|Koldo Fernández de Larrea|
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