Samuel Sanchez (BMC) has said that the news of his 'adverse analytical finding' for the growth hormone releasing peptide GHRP-2 came as a total surprise. The UCI announced the finding on Thursday, which came from an out-of-competition test performed on August 9.
BMC later confirmed that the Spanish rider and 2008 Olympic Road Race champion has been provisionally suspended. Sanchez made brief comments to the Spanish news agency EFE, although his lawyers have told him not to speak until the results of the B sample have come through.
"The lawyers have said to me not to make declarations because they have to wait for the result of the B sample. It is about an adverse result, not a positive, but in any case, for me, it has been a total surprise, and I couldn't believe it," Sanchez told EFE.
Sanchez had just arrived in Nimes for the start of the Vuelta a Espana, when he was informed of the test results by the UCI. The Vuelta was potentially one of the last races of his career, with the Spaniard set to decide on his retirement after the Grand Tour finished on September 10.
"I'm bad, very surprised. I was aware of the news in Nimes, and I am now at home to await events. I got there this morning, and they told me by telephone and email, and I could not believe it," Sanchez said, going on to question why he would take a banned substance in the first place. "I am 39, I have been a professional for 19 years, and I am at the point of retiring, why would I get into this?"
Sanchez insisted that has a "calm conscience," and that the whole thing is "all a scare."
Business as usual at the Vuelta a Espana
If there was any tension this afternoon in the BMC Racing Team camp after one of their most veteran riders, Sánchez, had failed a doping test, it was most definitely not out in the open for the public or the tiny handful of journalists present to see.
Instead, at the team's Nimes lodgings, a large, out-of-town hotel on an industrial estate, there was the usual view of a gaggle of mechanics, in this case, from four different Vuelta a España squads, seemingly immune to the heat as they washed bikes on a tarmacked forecourt. Inside a few team riders were grabbing a late meal post-training in the large circular tables in the hotel dining room. In marked contrast to the media feeding frenzy such situations produce, say, in the Tour de France, the hotel lobby was nearly deserted, and the most distraught person was a businesswoman whose room wifi seemed to be playing up.
Typical scenes at the BMC team hotel at Nimes then played out dozens of times in a Grand Tour. The idea that things had gone seriously awry for one of their best-known senior pros was only detectable, in fact, when team staff refused to comment on Sanchez's test.
Cyclingnews understands that Sánchez received the information that he had an adverse analytical finding, to use the UCI jargon for his failed test, this Thursday morning during group training for the team time trial on Saturday. He then returned to the team hotel and by lunchtime had left Nimes, with only his bike, sitting somewhat forlornly outside the team truck, still remaining there.
In an interview at the Tour de Pologne, the 2008 Olympic road race champion had told Cyclingnews that he would not make a decision on whether he would continue racing for another year until after the Vuelta a España. More than ever, now, that decision is hanging in the balance.