Russian sprinter Denis Galimzyanov has been provisionally suspended for testing positive for EPO in an out-of-competition control in March, the UCI reported Monday.
The UCI said Galimzyanov returned an adverse analytic finding for an out-of-competition urine sample collected on March 22.
When contacted by VeloNews by telephone, Katusha team manager Hans-Michael Holczer quickly distanced the Russian-backed squad from the news.
“It’s a bad, very bad surprise,” Holczer told VeloNews. “I have only heard the news 10 minutes ago, but I can confirm that the team is not involved. Whatever he did was his personal choice.”
Holczer joined Katusha as general manager over the winter, following the departure of Andrei Tchmil, and promised to impose a strict, anti-doping policy within the team.
Holczer formerly ran the Gerolsteiner team, which disbanded at the end of the 2008 season after a string of doping scandals within the team, including EPO cases involving Stefan Schumacher and Tour de France podium-man Bernhard Kohl.
Holczer returned to cycling in part because he believes the sport has cleaned up significantly, but he sounded dejected when he took a phone call from VeloNews on Monday afternoon.
“(The news) destroys nine months of hard work with this team,” Holczer said. “I am extremely disappointed. I hope that he collaborates with authorities to clarify his situation. That’s all want to say now because I have just heard the news myself, but I can assure [you] the team is not involved.”
The sample was tested by the UCI-accredited lab in Cologne, Germany, the same lab that discovered minute traces of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador’s sample during the 2010 Tour de France.
Galimzyanov will have the right to request and attend the control of a B-sample. In the meantime, Galimzyanov remains suspended as the Russian cycling federation will consider his case.
The 25-year-old Katusha sprinter has been one of the top young Russian riders to emerge in the past few years.
He turned pro in 2009 and enjoyed a solid 2011 season, with victories in Paris-Brussels and stages at the Tour of Luxembourg and Three Days of De Panne, as well as second at Grote Scheldeprijs.
So far in 2012, he won a stage at the Circuit de la Sarthe in early April.
Katusha recently agreed to bring Alexandr Kolobnev back onto the team after the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared him in February of doping allegations related to positive control during the 2011 Tour de France.
Kolobnev tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide during the fifth stage of the 2011 Tour, but CAS ruled that the use of the drug was justified by “medical reasons unrelated to performance.”
Kolobnev has been struggling with an injury and has not yet raced with Katusha this season.