The UCI today announced that Katusha rider Eduard Vorganov has been provisionally suspended for an anti-doping rule violation. Vorganov tested positive for the anti-ischemic drug Meldonium in an out-of-competition test on January 14, 2016.
The positive is the second in 12 months for Katusha after Italian Luca Paolini came up positive for cocaine at the Tour de France last year. Under the revised UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the team now faces a possible 15-45 day suspension from competition, depending on the decision of the Disciplinary Commission.
Meldonium, a drug manufactured in Latvia, is new to the WADA prohibited list this year after studies proved that athletes were using the drug to enhance performance. According to an article in Drug Testing and Analysis, researchers found it "demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system (CNS) functions."
Should the UCI Disciplinary Commission decided to ban Katusha, the team could be excluded from competing in a number of important early-season events such as the Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman, Ruta del Sol, and Vuelta Murcia.
The Katusha team said in a statement that it would conduction an investigation into how this "breach of the Team's strict medical and anti-doping internal rules" occurred.
Katusha's riders are prohibited from taking any medicine or supplement unless provided by team doctors, and the team confirmed that Meldonium has neer been used by the team or provided to Vorganov.
"In accordance with Team Katusha's zero tolerance policy, Eduard Vorganov has been suspended from all team activities, effective immediately. In the event that Eduard Vorganov took this product on his own initiative," the team stated.
Vorganov can request analysis of his B-sample and the team said it "respects and will adhere to the process of the anti-doping authorities and will not comment further at this time."
"Team Katusha would like to emphasize that it takes all possible measures in order to avoid anti-doping rule violations within its team and is fully committed to fight doping. Team Katusha is obviously extremely disappointed that a situation like this could occur despite these measures."
This statement is important to the team's possible suspension for a second doping case: UCI rules allow for any suspension to be avoided if "at least one anti-doping rule violation was committed by the Rider with no involvement of any Team member or staff and that the Team applied all due diligence and took all measures that could reasonably be expected in order to avoid the commission of anti-doping rule violations."