Alex Marque tested positive for betamethasone in this year's Tour of Portugal in August. The 32-year-old Spaniard won the race and signed a contract with Team Movistar afterwards. However, the contract with the WorldTour team is now without any value and Marque faces a two-year ban from the sport.
According to El País, which quotes several official sources, Marque tested positive for betamethasone, a glucocorticosteroid with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties. The WADA prohibited list states that all glucocorticosteroids are prohibited when administered by oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes. The UCI have sent the test results to the Spanish cycling federation. Marque could face a two-year ban.
He will also lose his overall victory in the Tour of Portugal. Marque lay the foundations for his overall victory in the mountain stage to Alto da Torre and took the lead in the penultimate stage, a 35.3 kilometre time trial. If Marque's results are declared void his OFM-Quinta da Lixa teammate Gustavo Veloso will be winner of the event.
Overall victory in the UCI 2.1 race is Marque's only stage race win in a career which spanned ten years with smaller Portuguese teams, and it earned him a contract with Team Movistar. The Spanish team announced him as a time trial specialist and a rouleur.
However, El País quotes sources within the Movistar Team who stated that: "the rider's contract contained a clause stating that he should arrive to the team without any problems. If not, the contract would lose all its value."
Marque was unable to join Movistar's first team training camp in Pamplona this week because his mother suffered a serious illness. He will therefore not feature on the Movistar team pictures. It is not clear if the place Marque leaves open has been filled already by the arrival of Igor Anton.
Alex Marque issued a statement on his Facebook today saying that he possessed a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for the use of betamethasone. The UCI, the anti-doping inspector and his team were aware he had taken the product.
"Betamethasone is a product which is allowed but not during races," he said. "Just before the Tour of Portugal, the most important race on the calendar in Portugal, my participation was in serious danger because of problems with my right knee. I received oral treatment with betamethasone and physiotherapy but to no avail. I had the product injected in my knee twice. My team and the UCI knew about this.
"When I was tested I also told the doping inspector of the product. There was no concealment from my part but I didn't go public with it because I didn't want to alert my rivals in the race. I consider the presence of the substance in my body sufficiently declared and have now received treatment for the knee with regards to the new season. The use of betamethasone was prescripted. I had no intent to deceive."
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