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Tour stage winner Astarloza suspended after failed doping test

Gregor Brown
July 31, 2009, 17:16 BST,
August 01, 2009, 9:47 BST
First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, August 1, 2009
Tour de France, Stage 21
Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the podium after his stage win.

Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the podium after his stage win.

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(Updated) Euskaltel-Euskadi stands behind rider

The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced Friday that it suspended Spaniard Mikel Astarloza for failing a doping control June 26, which was 25 days before he won the Tour de France's mountain stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

His Euskaltel-Euskadi team said that it had not seen any abnormalities in the team's internal controls. It said Astarloza will request the counter-analysis of the sample. Until then, the press release stated, he will be considered innocent until proven guilty.

The Cycling Union announced that Astarloza tested positive for blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition control. He is the second rider from Spain's Euskaltel-Euskadi team to return a positive doping control in June. Iñigo Landaluze was suspended in July after twice testing positive for EPO CERA.

The team condemned Landaluze and he took full responsibility for his positive tests.

Astarloza's urine test was performed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and analysed in Madrid. The Cycling Union received the results on Thursday.

The suspension is provisional until a Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) panel meets to examine the results. "The hearing panel will make a decision on an applicable sanction for Mr. Astarloza," said the Cycling Union in a press release.

The failed doping test is the first related to a rider who participated in the 2009 Tour de France. There were eight riders who tested positive for doping in last year's race.

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