UCI goes for maximum suspensions in Guatemala

The nine riders implicated in the Vuelta a Guatemala doping affair will be sanctioned for the maximum two years, according to UCI president Hein Verbruggen. Speaking at the Congreso de la Confederación Panamericana de Ciclismo in Cuba, Verbruggen was quoted by AP as saying, "The UCI will apply the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency to the letter. An athlete that tests positive for doping is suspended for two years and another transgression is for life."

The nine riders include winner Leandro Ajcú and his Guatemalan compatriots Abel Jochola, Nery Velázquez, and David Calanche, as well as Noel Velázquez (2nd), Carlos López (3rd), Federico Muñoz (4th), Reynaldo Murillo and Yeisson Delgado. The Guatemalan and Venezuelan riders had already been sanctioned by their national federations for as little as two months, but now the sanctions have been revised. Eight of the nine riders will be suspended for two years, while repeat offender Abel Jochola will be given a life ban. Also, Guatemalan coach Augusto Bony Pérez was given a life ban while another coach, Fernando Pineda, earlier received a one year suspension.

Costa Rican Paolo Vargas, who finished fifth overall, will be declared the winner of the race once the sanctions are made official.

Verbruggen also declared that, "The athletes are victims and many times they don't know what they're taking." Words that were echoed by the head of the Guatemalan cycling federation, Fernando Sosa. "The cyclists are used, they tell them that they are going to give them something to help them recuperate, and they accept it out of ignorance."

Sosa added that the Vuelta a Guatemala is in danger of going ahead next year after the scandal, as sponsors have turned away.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1