Euskaltel-Euskadi announced Saturday that it had suspended Russian rider Alexander Serebryakov after being notified of an “adverse analytical finding” by the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Team management said the UCI had informed them that Serebryakov had tested positive on March 18, while training at home.
The 25-year-old, who had been tapped to race Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, was suspended without pay.
“True to its commitment towards a clean and credible cycling, and in application of the internal rules of procedure consistent with this spirit, the team has decided to immediately expel the cyclist from the team and suspend him of employment and salary,” the team announced on its website.
“The team is astonished that some riders have not yet understood that cycling should be a clean sport without shortcuts, so it condemns emphatically this type of behavior.”
Also on the Euskaltel-Euskadi website, Serebryakov absolved his team of any responsibility in the matter.
“I want to make it clear that the team has nothing to do with this situation, and that it is a personal problem that I will try to clarify in the next few days,” he wrote.
“Team Euskaltel-Euskadi and its technical, medical and support staff have always emphasized their commitment to zero tolerance with doping, and their work in favor of a clean, transparent and credible cycling.
“I deeply regret what happened, and I apologize to the team and my teammates for this unfortunate situation.”
The news couldn’t come at a worse time for Euskaltel.
Serebryakov was one of seven riders the team signed in large part for the UCI points they brought to the table to help the squad assure a place in the WorldTour league. Short of points, the team was forced to drop its long-running tradition of signing and nurturing riders exclusively from the Basque Country. Instead, four Basque riders were dropped, and 11 non-Basque riders were picked up.
That assured Euskaltel a WorldTour license, but the decision has proven divisive in the Basque Country.
The team is also under growing pressure to win a race. Already well into the spring classics, the squad remains the only WorldTour-level team without a win. And even worse, it failed to score a win on home roads at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, which ended Saturday with Samuel Sanchez a distant 15th.
To add insult to injury, former Euskaltel rider Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), a popular Basque rider who was dumped in part so they could sign Serebryakov, attacked in the opening stages to win the mountains jersey.