Yuri Trofimov was lined up to replace Caruso in the team’s nine-man roster for the Spanish Grand Tour but the Russian has lost his place after getting drunk in the aftermath of the Olympic test race in Rio on Sunday, according to Sporza.
Trofimov was competing in the race in Russian national colours alongside fellow Katusha rider Egor Silin, who also seems to have been his drinking partner. Unlike Trofimov, Silin was on Katusha’s original roster for the Vuelta but has also now been told he won’t be on the start line.
Sporza claims the pair were in a state of drunkenness at the airport ahead of their flight back from Rio and that this lies behind their absence from the Vuelta, which begins on Saturday on the south coast of Spain.
Katusha representative have confirmed to Cyclingnews that Tiago Machado has been added to the line-up in place of Caruso, while Gatis Smukulis has replaced Silin, but they have not yet responded about the allegations of drunkenness.
Caruso was notified of a possible doping offence on Tuesday when a 2012 sample of his was retrospectively tested and found to contain EPO. He has been provisionally suspended in anticipation of his B-sample and it is the second incident in quick succession for Katusha after Luca Paolini, also awaiting B-sample results, tested positive for cocaine during the Tour de France in July.
Katusha’s plans for the Vuelta revolve around Joaquim Rodríguez, who has an impressive record in his home three-week race, finishing fourth in the last two years, third in 2012, and picking up six top-10 finishes in seven editions.