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Heras calls it quits

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) in the 2005 Vuelta

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) in the 2005 Vuelta (Image credit: AFP)

Former Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras called it quits for his career. In October, the Spaniard finished serving a two-year ban from cycling competition that resulted from a positive doping test for EPO. Heras could have signed with any of the European continental teams offering him a spot on their rosters, but according to UCI code, he was prohibited from signing with a ProTour team for another two years beyond his initial two-year ban.

"I still don't understand the code of ethics and why ProTour teams can't hire a rider who like me has served his ban," said Heras Saturday to Marca. "Other top riders will have to quit the peloton because they can't find a team as well.

"Cycling is going through a bad period: teams, organisers, the UCI are at war, there is no unity, so it's very difficult to get out of the crisis," said the three-time Vuelta winner (2000, 2003, 2004).

The 33 year-old had previously raced for Liberty Seguros, Kelme and US Postal. He was disqualified from his fourth Vuelta a España win after he failed a doping test. Heras also won one stage each in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. In the latter race, he served as a lieutenant to Lance Armstrong in the mountains of the 2001 edition.

Heras indicated his decision was indeed definitive. As he told Marca, "I have thrown in the towel." He is one of several riders to announce retirement recently, either after positive doping tests or an inability to find a satisfactory contract. Others include three time Tour de France podium finisher and Spaniard Joseba Beloki, Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov, former World Champion Laurent Brochard and Spain's Oscar Sevilla.