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Raúl Alarcón handed four-year doping ban

Raul Alarcon W52-FC Porto at the 2019 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Raul Alarcon (W52-FC Porto) at the 2019 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (Image credit: Getty Images)

W52-FC Porto rider and two-time Volta a Portugal champion Raúl Alarcón has been handed a four-year suspension for an anti-doping rule violation.

The 34-year-old Spaniard has been suspended for the 'Use of Prohibited Methods and/or Prohibited Substances' and has also lost both Volta titles. He will be ineligible for competition until October 20, 2023. 

Alarcón had been provisionally suspended since October 2019, so has already served 17 months of his ban.

As part of his punishment, Alarcón also loses all his results from July 28, 2015 (the start of the 2015 Volta a Portugal) to October 21, 2019 – his entire spell at the all-conquering W52-FC Porto team which has won each edition of the Volta a Portugal since 2013.

As a result, he loses his 2017 and 2018 titles, with teammate Amaro Antunes set to inherit the 2017 win, and Sporting-Tavira's Joni Brandão (now of W52-FC Porto) inheriting the 2018 title. He also loses five stage wins at the race, as well as his Vuelta Asturias title in 2017 which Nairo Quintana should inherit, and a stage win at the 2017 Vuelta a Madrid.

Alarcón moved to the Portuguese racing scene with Efapel in 2011, having kicked off his career with two years at Saunier Duval and a season at the Comunidad Valenciana Continental team. In 2013, he moved to the Algarve-based Louletano team, before joining W52-FC Porto in 2015.

He is the fifth cyclist to lose a Volta a Portugal title for doping-related reasons. Four-time Tour de France stage winner Joaquim Agostinho lost his 1969 and 1973 titles due to positive tests, Fernando Mendes and Marco Chagas lost their titles in 1978 and 1979. In 2009 Liberty Seguros rider and current W52-FC Porto directeur sportif Nuno Ribeiro lost his title after testing positive for CERA along with teammates Héctor Guerra and Isidro Nozal.

Alarcón's ban isn't the first to affect Portuguese cycling this season. In January, ex-Caja Rural and Radio Popular Boavista rider Domingos Gonçalves was handed a four-year ban for Biological Passport abnormalities. The 32-year-old, a twin brother of Delko rider José Gonçalves, will be eligible to return to racing on December 11, 2023.

Last December, Sporting-Tavira rider and former Tour de France yellow jersey holder Rinaldo Nocentini was handed a four-year ban and stripped of two years of results by CONI due to 'use or attempted use of prohibited methods.' The 43-year-old retired in 2019.