Sergio Henao has spoken for the first time since he was withdrawn from racing by Team Sky, saying he is optimistic about the outcome of the extra controls he is about to undergo in Colombia and hopes to soon return to racing.
Henao issued a personal statement to Cyclingnews, Biciciclismo and Tuttobiciweb. He also spoke to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
Team Sky withdrew Henao from its racing schedule on March 19 after the team's internal monthly physiological profile caught the eye of the team's experts and set alarm bells ringing.
The UCI has not begun to investigate into a possible Biological Passport violation, as in the case of Jonathan Tiernan Locke, however Team Sky said that their experts had "questions about Sergio’s out-of-competition control tests at altitude - tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities."
Henao spent the winter at home in Rionegro in Colombia. It is at an altitude of 2125 metres. Team Sky wants to investigate if this played a factor in sparking Henao's unusual blood value but claimed their understanding is "limited by a lack of scientific research into ‘altitude natives’ such as Sergio."
Henao has been out of action since the Tour of Oman. He is expected to return to Colombia when Team Sky agrees a testing protocol that can shed light on his unusual blood value.
Henao told Cyclingnews that he "shares and understands the attention Team Sky is giving to the blood value the last monthly control has highlighted," pointing out he has "always believed in the ethical values of cycling, and that honesty and respect for the rules come before anything else."
Henao confirmed that he is willing to "collaborate with the team to complete the medical-scientific investigation with the aim to help the investigation,"
He said he will also "make available the scientific support from highly considered experts that have already been contacted."
Henao told El Tiempo that he is not worried by the planned further tests and what they may show.
“I have nothing to hide and I'm not worried. The team want to analyse things and look at it all and I will comply with them," he said.
“Since arriving at Team Sky I have done 30 controls and I have never had a problem. This is internal with the team. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has never said that there was something suspicious.”
Out of competition blood test taken on January 14
In his interview with El Tiempo, Henao revealed that the out of competition blood test was carried out on February 14. However Henao was already in Europe on that date and was about to travel to the Tour of Oman.
Henao's agent Giuseppe Acquadro told Cyclingnews that the test was actually carried out on January 14 and confirmed that Henao could have refused to undergo the test due to the WADA officials arriving later than the time slot that Henao had stipulated in his whereabouts data.
“The people from WADA called me in the hour that was stipulated in ADAMS (the whereabouts system), which was between six and seven in the morning. They called me and said that they would arrive at seven, but they got lost so that I had to wait until nine,” Henao revealed to El Tiempo.
Henao will now return to Colombia where the team will put him through more testing to further understand the anomaly.
It is expected that Henao will be out of action for at least eight weeks as he undergoes more tests and so is facing a race against time to secure a place in Team Sky's squad for the Tour de France.
He is keen to get back to racing as soon as possible.
“I hope that we can quickly find a solution to this case and that I can return to competition, because I have lost the best races in Europe. This has been very hard,” he said.