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Astarloza certain of innocence

Mikel Astarloza speaks to the press about his alleged dopnig positive.

Mikel Astarloza speaks to the press about his alleged dopnig positive. (Image credit: AFP)

Spaniard Mikel Astarloza held a press conference on Tuesday in San Sebastián, Spain, where he maintained his innocence in response to the International Cycling Union's (UCI) announcement that he doped with blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO).

"I know that I have not taken anything prohibited, and categorically say: 'I've never taken anything forbidden," said Astarloza.

He failed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) doping control June 26. The positive control came 25 days before he won the Tour de France's mountain stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The UCI received WADA's report last Thursday and announced the provisional suspension one day later.

"I received a call from the UCI and I thought it was a joke," he continued. "I was surprised because I know I did nothing. If I had taken something I would have given a wrong address [to the controllers]."

Spanish sports daily Marca reports that Astarloza's team, Euskaltel-Euskadi, continues to support its rider and will wait for the counter-analysis of his urine sample.

The UCI's suspension stands until a Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) panel meets to examine the results. It hasn't related a date for the meeting.

Astarloza said with UCI's biological passport for tracking blood values it is "madness and suicide" to cheat.

He won the Tour de France's stage 16 from a small escape group that finished less than a minute ahead of race leader, Alberto Contador. Frenchman Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) was also part of Astarloza's group and finished second.