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Chris Froome stands to be declared winner of 2011 Vuelta a Espana

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The final podium in the 2011 Vuelta a España

The final podium in the 2011 Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Vuelta a Espana)
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Juan Jose Cobo dons the red jersey.

Juan Jose Cobo dons the red jersey.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) celebrates his Vuelta a Espana triumph.

Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) celebrates his Vuelta a Espana triumph.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Chris Froome could soon declared the winner of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, after the UCI confirmed that the race winner Juan Jose Cobo has been found guilty of an anti-doping rule violation.

The UCI announced on Thursday that its Anti-Doping Tribunal found Cobo "guilty of an anti-doping rule violation (Use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his Biological Passport and imposed a three-year period of ineligibility on the rider."

Cobo may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within one month. A final decision on who will be declared winner of the 2011 Vuelta will only be taken after the case is completed.

Being awarded a seventh Grand Tour victory will be little consolation for Froome, who is currently in intensive care after a devastating crash during the warm-up for the time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine following seven hours of surgery to repair a compound fracture to the femur, broken hip and fractured elbow.

Froome was hoping to add a fifth Tour de France title to his palmares, but will now be facing a lengthy rehabilitation to even return to competition.

In 2011, Froome was at the very genesis of his Grand Tour contender status, sharing the leadership on Team Sky with Bradley Wiggins in the Vuelta.

Froome took the race lead in the stage 10 time trial in Salamanca but Wiggins assumed the red jersey the next day after Froome lost time on the summit finish to Estación de Montaña Manzaneda. Wiggins led the race through the stage to the Anglirú, where Cobo emerged as a surprise race leader.

Froome ended the race 13 seconds down on Cobo in the final general classification, with Wiggins third at 1:39. 

Bauke Mollema, (then Rabobank) was fourth, and stands to add his first Grand Tour podium to his palmares should Cobo be disqualfied. 

Cobo's career had been full of ups and downs. With Saunier Duval in 2007, he won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Hautacam stage of the 2008 Tour de France, and then a stage of the Vuelta when the team became Fuji-Servetto in 2009, but those were rare flashes of brilliance until his dominating 2011 Vuelta a Espana victory.

He hoped to repeat that performance in 2012 but blamed his lack of form on problems with a tooth. In 2013 it more health problems which reduced his calendar of competition to just 58 racing days. In 2014 he joined the Turkish Torku Şekerspor Continental team but only rode the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey and the Tour d'Azerbaidjan before hanging up his wheels.