Liberty Seguros rider Roberto Heras has been confirmed to have taken blood booster EPO to achieve his record-breaking fourth Vuelta a España victory this season. The counter-analysis of his returned positive A sample, taken on the penultimate stage of the Spanish Grand Tour on September 17, revealed the presence of the banned substance today.
This finding will most probably end the rider's career and strip him of his last Vuelta win, which will now be awarded to Rabobank's Denis Menchov. Heras will face a two-year suspension as well as immediate sacking from his team, whose future might now be compromised. The Spaniard has repeatedly denied having taken EPO to enhance his performance, and in light of recent statements from himself and his lawyer, an appeal against the decision seems likely.
Hours after the news broke, an official statement was released by Active Bay, Management Company of the Liberty Seguros-Würth team.
It read: "After receiving confirmation of his [Heras'] positive test in the counter-analysis, we regret to inform that as a result of the commitments pledged through the ethical code endorsed by all UCI-ProTour Teams, we will proceed to terminate the contract of Roberto Heras as soon as we receive an official confirmation from the International Cycling Union, following which the rider will step down from the team."