Samuel Sánchez has been suspended from competition for a period of two years, the UCI has announced. The Spaniard tested positive for the growth hormone releasing peptide GHRP-2 on August 9, 2017 before being provisionally suspended by the UCI and later fired by his then-team, BMC.
Sánchez, who called the positive test a "total surprise", retired from professional cycling at the end of the 2017 season, with his case remaining in limbo ever since. In a press release, the UCI confirmed his suspension, noting that they had accepted that Sánchez's positive test originated from a contaminated supplement.
"After careful review of the explanations and evidence submitted by Mr Sánchez, the UCI has accepted the likelihood that the origin of the anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was a contaminated supplement Mr Sánchez was using," read the UCI press release.
"As Mr. Sánchez has been provisionally suspended since 17 August 2017, his period of ineligibility will end on 16 August 2019."
With the resolution of the case coming almost two years after it was first announced, it has been an unusually – though not uniquely – long delay. The UCI confirmed that it was down to the numerous scientific analyses required to identify the source of the positive test.
"While the UCI would have preferred the case to be resolved sooner, establishing the source of the ADRV required multiple scientific analyses, as well as follow-up investigations, to make sure the correct conclusions were reached.
"The case has been resolved via an acceptance of consequences as provided for by the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. The resolution can be appealed by the National Anti-Doping Organization of Spain and the World Anti-Doping Agency."
Sánchez can return to pro cycling in August, though at the age of 41 that looks an unlikely proposition. Highlights of his 17-year professional career – the bulk of which was spent at Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi – included Olympic road race gold in 2008, five stage wins at the Vuelta a España, and runner-up spots at both the Vuelta and the Tour de France.