Salas handed long-term ban for bio passport offence

Spanish media have reported that Burgos-BH rider Ibai Salas has received a three-year, nine-month sentence for a possible biological passport offence.

The 27-year-old Basque rider, a pro with Burgos-BH since 2014, can make a final appeal to a Spanish state sports tribunal, Spanish sports daily AS reports, but it has not yet emerged if he will do so.

The case was first leaked to the media in June, but neither it nor the sentence have been made public.

If confirmed, Salas’ case would be the first biological passport case handled by Spain’s anti-doping agency, AEPSAD, to be given a definitive suspension.

A call by Cyclingnews to AEPSAD about the case was not answered.

Burgos-BH manager, Julio Andres Izquierdo, insisted to Cyclingnews on Thursday that the team, who made their Vuelta a España debut this year and won a stage, had a strict zero tolerance policy and that Salas had not raced since the summer, when news of a possible bio passport infraction first broke.

“Our riders have signed strict agreements that they cannot be involved in these kinds of malpractice,” Izquierdo said. “The rider has not been racing since questions about the case first appeared in the media in June.”

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On a personal level, Izquierdo, who has been working in cycling for over three decades, said the case was “very upsetting”.

Izquierdo also said that he has not been in direct contact with Salas since the early summer, when he last raced, and that the team had not been informed of a possible sanction by AEPSAD. Salas last raced in the Boucles de la Mayenne in June, when he finished 21st overall, and his best results have been a handful of top-10 placings in Spanish one-day races.

This summer another Burgos-BH rider, Igor Meriño, was provisionally suspended, and removed from the team, after testing positive for growth hormone. Burgos-BH also form part of the MPCC, and there are reports that, with a third Burgos-BH rider, David Belda, given a four-year ban early in 2017, the MPCC’s own, non-legally binding, anti-doping regulations and suspensions could now be applied to the Spanish squad.

Should the Merino and Salas cases be confirmed, Burgos-BH now risk suffering the consequences of a UCI regulation, which states that teams with two positive tests in a period of 12 months can be suspended for a period of up to six weeks.

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