By Antonio J. Salmerón
Two years after his suspension for EPO (Erythropoietin), Roberto Heras is ready to return to competition. "Simply, I have the desire," said the 33 year-old, three-time Vuelta a España winner, to the Spanish sport newspaper Sport. The Spaniard was discovered to have doped to win the 2005 Vuelta a España, a title that was later stripped.
"At the beginning [of the suspension] I did not want to know anything about cycling, but as time passed, my opinion changed. I have been training every day, and the truth is that I want to return, but without objectives for the short term," he commented.
He is conscious of the difficulties in his return to competition. "I wanted to return at the highest competition level," Heras continued. He is unable to sign for a top, ProTour squad due to rules that prevent signing a rider after being involved in a doping offense for four years. Recently, a court process presented by Heras to override this rule failed. "It is a barbarism that holds you during four years. However, we accepted it is as we had to. I do not say that we are guilty, but we have accepted these things as barbarism. I believe that with two years is sufficient pain."
Heras will be free to sign with a second-tier, Professional Continental team. They have served of refuge other cyclists of high level, he is conscious that, "the structure of these squads, and the calendar that they dispute are remarkably different. If the project satisfies me; perfect. I want to return, because I like this sport."
He has received three different offers from teams, but has not yet signed with any one team.
During the last two years he has had time to observe the reactions of those in and around the sport. "Friends have continued to be at my side, and they have supported to me, whereas others have made firewood of the fallen tree. I imagine that it is normal."