BMC Racing rider Nicolas Roche has said that he was disgusted to find out that his teammate Samuel Sanchez had failed an anti-doping test. Sanchez returned an adverse analytical finding for the substance GHRP-2 – a growth hormone-releasing peptide – in an out-of-competition test on August 9 and was informed of the result just two days before the Vuelta a Espana got underway in Nimes.
Writing in his daily diary for the Irish Independent, Roche - who is riding the Vuelta a Espana - described the emotion on the team bus after the news was made public. The team had been out on a pre-race training ride when Sanchez received the fateful phone call, Roche had initially been told to wait up for his teammate, but Sanchez returned to the hotel where he promptly packed to go home.
"Just before lunch, we were all summoned onto the team bus for a team meeting. This often happens at races, so I didn't think much of it until the directeur sportif made his announcement," Roche wrote in the diary published on Saturday. "Immediately the questions started: the most common one being, "What the f**k?" After the initial shock, I was disgusted, and I have to say there were a lot of angry riders on the bus."
Roche said that there were plenty of questions following the news, "but none of us had any answers. We just couldn't understand it." Roche is racing his first season with BMC Racing after switching to the American-registered squad from Team Sky over the winter. He wrote that he had developed a good rapport with Sanchez across the few races that they had done together, but that there was no way to tell that anything was untoward.
"Some of the other guys know him better than I do but having raced against him for years, we often chatted about our mutual interest in cars and motorsport, and he seemed to be a really nice guy. But that's the thing," he said.
"You can't tell just by talking to somebody whether they dope or not. It's not like the guys who dope talk about it. They don't rock up to the breakfast table and say, 'Hey guys, I did growth hormones.'
Sanchez was quickly replaced by Loic Vliegen in the nine-man line-up for the Vuelta, and the team would go on to win the opening team time trial on Saturday evening, putting Rohan Dennis briefly into the race lead. Sanchez's B sample still has to be tested, but if that is also found to contain GHRP-2, then the Spaniard could face a lengthy ban that would effectively end his career.
Roche signed off his diary saying: "It's a sad day for the team and it's sad for the sport. Once again, we're the ones left answering the questions to the media."