Heras to appeal

After being given a two year ban for doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), Roberto Heras said that he will appeal his sanction to the Spanish courts. The Spaniard tested positive for the blood boosting drug EPO on the penultimate stage of the 2005 Vuelta a España, and as a result will lose his overall victory to Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

"It's not hard to understand my complete disagreement with the decision of the federation, and the feeling of total defencelessness that I find myself in," said Heras in a statement. "I can't accept that my name, my dignity, and that of my whole family remain tarnished by a test that doesn't offer any guarantees."

Heras expressed his disappointment and frustration at the RFEC, "that did not evaluate in legal and technical depth any of the allegations that we presented." Heras' lawyer, José María Buxeda, argued that there were several procedural errors in his client's case, and that the test itself was unreliable, particularly following intense exercise. In response, the RFEC admitted to the existence of some errors, but did not rate them as significant enough to clear Heras.

Heras argued that he has had the best record of anyone in the Vuelta. "I have participated in nine editions of the Vuelta. I have won four, I have finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th on the general classification and spent 36 days in the leader's jersey, always with rigour and honesty. And I have passed more than 50 blood and urine controls during these years to prove it.

"I don't understand the positive test, nor the sanction, and I cannot accept that my name remains damaged by something that I am absolutely certain I have never done...I am going to do whatever it takes to show my innocent and I want to clarify that, in spite of the fact that I will be far away from racing and the grand tours, I will continue riding with a clear conscience."

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