Mosquera's Hydroxyethyl case drags on

Nibali flanked by Mosquera and Velits

Nibali flanked by Mosquera and Velits (Image credit: Sirotti)

The Spanish Anti-doping Agency (AEA) has said that  it is not possible to prove how Hydroxyethyl entered Ezequiel Mosquera's system, opening up the possibility that doping charges against him could be dismissed.

Mosquera tested positive for Hydroxyethyl at last year's Vuelta a Espana, which he finished as second overall. Hydroxyethyl starch is a blood plasma volume expander that can serve to dilute the blood without decreasing the amount of red blood cells present. It may be used as a masking agent for EPO, for which he did not test positive.

However, the product is prohibited only if administered intravenously. It can also be taken orally. According to the Spanish website Biciciclismo, the AEA has submitted information to the ongoing hearing that it is not possible to say which method was used.

According to the AEA, while the tests showed the product in Mosquera's urine sample, it is scientifically impossible to differentiate the method of use. “The methods of laboratory analysis detected selectively acidic decomposition products of the substance itself, there is no chance of defining the route of administration from the results.”

The judge hearing the case is said to have asked the AEA, the International Cycling Union and the anti-doping labs in Cologne and Madrid to answer three questions: Is it possible to differentiate between intravenous and oral applications? Does this substance served to enhance performance? Is this substance found in food?

For the second question, the AEA acknowledged that it can be used to mask illegal products, although none were found in Mosquera's sample, and that is was possible for the product to have been ingested in food.

The 35-year-old has consistently denied having used any doping substance. After his Xacobeo Galicia team folded after last year's Vuelta, he signed with Vacansoleil-DCM. The Dutch team has held him out of racing pending the outcome of the case. He is on the team's long list to ride this year's Vuelta but that he "will only start if his case is closed and he is acquitted by the relevant authorities.”

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