By Hernan Alvarez
The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) has suspended Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros-Würth) for two years after his positive doping test for EPO, taken on the penultimate stage of the 2005 Vuelta a España. Thus, Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) who finished second in the Spanish tour, will be recorded as 2005 Vuelta a España champion, and Heras will remain with three victories (2000, 2003 and 2004).
The general secretary of the RFEC, Eugenio Bermudez, told Spanish news agency Efe, "What we did was just to fulfil our commitment to apply the rules. It's not a positive or nice matter for sport or cycling but we applied the current rules".
Liberty Seguros was informed by the UCI about the positive doping test on October 27, 2005. The Spanish team subsequently decided to suspend Heras. With the sanction confirmed, the rider now has the right to appeal to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) within a month. His suspension will start four or five days after he receives the letter from the RFEC about his case and he signs for the receipt of that letter.
Heras tested positive on the 20th stage of the Vuelta, a 38.9 km time trial between Guadalajara and Alcala de Henares. He finished second behind Ruben Plaza that day by only 0.5 seconds. Plaza actually set a record for any long individual time trial in any Grand Tour of 56.218 km/h, with a strong tailwind and a flat course helping.