Vuelta a España runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera has denied knowingly taking a banned substance, saying his “conscience is clear”, after world cycling’s ruling body said he had failed a dope test.
The UCI said the Spaniard and his Xacobeo Galicia teammate David Garcia da Pena both tested positive for Hydroxyethyl Starch (HES).
It said urine samples were collected from them at an in-competition test at the Vuelta a España on September 16.
“My conscience is super clear,” Mosquera told a news conference late Thursday in his hometown of Teo in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region.
“I’m looking at that Hydroxyethyl and how it could go out there, because the reality is that I don’t know,” said the rider, who joined Dutch team Vacansoleil from Xacobeo after the conclusion of the Vuelta.
“I have no reason to do awful things because I have a contract that was very hard to get… I did not have to do such crazy things as that.”
Garcia has also denied knowingly taking a banned substance.
HES is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency largely because it can both enhance performance on its own and mask the use of EPO or banned practices such as blood doping.
HES increases the volume of plasma and eases the transport of red blood cells to muscle tissue. Such an increase can also result in a lower overall hematocrit level, despite the presence of a greater number of red blood cells produced by EPO or introduced by blood doping.
The UCI’s first test to detect the use of EPO and banned blood-boosting practices involved a simple hematocrit test. While more sophisticated methods of detection have evolved over the years, the UCI still conducts regular hematocrit checks both in and out of competition. Riders who are found to have hematocrit levels of 50 or above are provisionally suspended, pending further investigation.
The news of the Xacabeo riders’ positive came within hours of reports that three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador had tested positive for trace amounts of the bronchodilator clenbuterol.