The Dutch Monkey Town Continental team has said that incorrect medication was to blame after one of their riders returned a positive test for a banned substance during the Tour of Qinghai Lake. Traces of Acetazolamide, which can be used as a masking agent, were found in the urine of Italian rider Antonio Santoro following an anti-doping control at the Chinese race.
Santoro finished fifth overall at the Tour of Qinghai lake at the end of July, but has not raced since. While Monkey Town has taken full blame for the error, Santoro has accepted a six-month ban that will run until mid-January.
"Following an internal investigation, Monkey Town CT may conclude that the wrong drug was provided to Antonio by the team manager during a stage of Quinghai Lake," a statement on the team's website read.
"Monkey Town CT and Antonio are both strict anti-doping, and both have given full cooperation to the UCI. The UCI accepts the explanation that Antonio was not cheating, he took the medicine by mistake. Because of the responsibility of Antonio as an athlete under the Anti-Doping Rules, a reduced sanctioned was imposed on him."
Santoro fell ill at the Tour of Qinghai Lake with stomach ache. According to the team, the stomach problems were brought on by the 'harsh conditions' of the race and the high altitude. He was provided with Acetazolamide – which, among other things, is used to treat altitude sickness – rather than the allowed medication Domperidon.
The 28-year-old Santoro has been racing at Continental level for the past five seasons after spending two years with the Androni squad in 2011 and 2012. He was third at the Baby Giro in 2012, finishing 5:18 behind the overall winner Carlos Betancur.