The Swiss cycling team, Phonak, has suffered another blow after its rider, Santiago Perez, tested positive for blood doping.This content was published on October 31, 2004 - 13:48
Perez - the third Phonak rider to be implicated in a doping scandal this year – denies any wrongdoing.
The 24-year-old Spanish rider said he had been told that an irregular blood test result suggested he underwent a transfusion, seen as a way of boosting an athlete’s performance by increasing his or her red blood cell count.
“The news I have been given is that they have detected irregularities in my blood as a consequence of a transfusion from another person,” Perez was quoted on the website, todociclismo com.
Perez, who finished in a surprise second place in this year’s Tour of Spain, has denied any wrongdoing.
He cast doubt on the reliability of the testing procedure employed by the International Cycling Union to detect so-called blood doping.
“All I can say is that I have not undergone any type of blood transfusion,” said Perez.
“I received a very confusing and contradictory communication telling me of the result of the analysis.”
He added that the test had been analysed by a laboratory in the Swiss city of Lausanne at the beginning of October and that the “B” sample was checked last week.
Phonak team manager Urs Freuler said he was surprised by the doping allegations.
“Our internal tests, carried out with the same machines, have never shown any irregularities in Perez’s blood.”
Perez's case echoes a similar doping investigation involving his teammate, Tyler Hamilton. The United States Olympic time trial champion tested positive for blood doping at both the Tour of Spain and the Athens Games.
Hamilton, who claimed he was innocent, was cleared to keep his Olympic gold after the International Olympic Committee decided his B test was not conclusive.
However, he has been suspended from the Phonak team pending an investigation by the United States anti-doping agency, USADA. A verdict is not expected before the end of this year.
The Swiss rider Oscar Camenzind, who raced for Phonak, was banned for two years after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug, EPO, shortly before the Olympic Games.
In July Camenzind announced he was withdrawing from competitive sports and apologised for his conduct.
swissinfo with agencies
The Spanish rider, Santiago Perez, of the Swiss Phonak cycling team has tested positive for blood doping.
An investigation is pending into his American team mate, Tyler Hamilton, for a similar offence.
In July Swiss rider Oscar Camenzind, who also raced for Phonak, announced his retirement after testing positive to banned drug.
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