Kanstantsin Siutsou (Bahrain-Merida) has been provisionally suspended after traces of the blood-booster Erythropoietin (EPO) was found in an out-of-competition anti-doping control carried out on July 31.
The UCI announced Siutsou’s suspension saying the test was "planned and carried out by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation".
Siutsou rode the Tour of Austria in July but failed to finish the Clásica San Sebastián on August 4.
The 36-year-old Italian-based Belarusian joined Bahrain-Merida in 2017 as a key Grand Tour domestique for Vincenzo Nibali. He rode for Dimension Data in 2017 and Team Sky between 2012 and 2015. He won the Tour of Croatia this April. Siutsou was selected for the Bahrain-Merida Giro d’Italia squad this year but fractured a vertebra in his neck while training on the course of the opening time trial in Jerusalem.
The UCI confirmed that Siutsou has the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample but confirmed his provisional suspension until the adjudication of the case.
EPO was widely used and abused until a urine anti-doping test was introduced in 2001 and the UCI created the biological passport in 2008. However, experts have long believed that micro-doses of EPO and the second-generation blood booster CERA can give performance benefits without triggering a biological passport violation.
The UCI has responded by combining suspicious biological passport data with intelligence and out of competition testing but dropped a biological passport cases against Roman Kreuziger in 2015 and Sergio Henao in 2016.
The Bahrain-Merida team issued a brief statement, revealing that Siutsou had been told in June that his contract would not be renewed.
“It is with deep disappointment that we have been informed by the Union Cycliste International (UCI) that our rider Kanstantsin Siutsou, has been notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) in a sample collected in the scope of an out-of-competition control on 31st July 2018,” the statement said.
“In accordance with our zero-tolerance policy, the rider has been suspended immediately. Siutsou’s contract expires on December 31st 2018 and Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team had notified the rider during the month of June that his contract would not be renewed.”
Bahrain-Merida team manager Brent Copeland expressed his disappointment at the news of Siutsou’s positive test.
“This news is terribly disappointing, we are very severe with any wrong doing with regards to our internal health code, this behaviour is not accepted by our team and further procedures will be taken against the rider,” Copeland said in the Bahrain-Merida statement.