The UCI has announced that the Spanish Cycling Federation’s Disciplinary Commission has handed down a two-year suspension and a €35,000 fine to Igor Astarloa. The former world champion was one of the first five riders to fall foul of the UCI’s biological passport system in June 2009.
Astarloa’s ban is largely symbolic, given that he announced his retirement from racing at the end of 2009 while the investigation into his irregular blood values was pending. His Amica Chips team had already folded for financial reasons in May 2009 although he insisted that he could have found a squad for 2010.
The Basque rider had previously exhibited suspicious blood values while riding for Milram and he was released by the German squad in May 2008. Astarloa's blood samples also came under considerable scrutiny in the wake of his 2003 world championships victory although he was never punished for any infraction.
Astarloa turned professional with Mercatone Uno in 2000 and enjoyed his best season with Saeco in 2003, winning the Worlds in Hamilton and Flèche Wallone. After a torrid year in the rainbow jersey, including a mid-season switch from Cofidis to Lampre, the Spaniard never enjoyed the same level of success.
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