Spanish daily El País has reported that 2013 Volta a Portugal winner Alejandro Marque tested positive for a banned substance in the days after winning the 11-day Portuguese tour.
Marque, a Spaniard racing for the Portuguese Continental OFM-Quinta da Lixa team, won the overall by four seconds ahead of teammate Gustavo César Veloso.
According to El País, Marque tested positive for betamethasone, also known as Celestone, a banned corticoid on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances. Cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, has forwarded a file to the Spanish cycling
federation, whose Competition Committee will open the procedural process this week, El País reported.
Officials from the Spanish cycling federation could not be reached for comment Friday.
On Friday, Marque wrote on his Facebook page that he did in fact take the substance, but with the approval and knowledge of team doctors and the UCI, to treat a knee injury ahead of the start of the race in August.
“There was never any intention to treat or hide the use of the medication,” he wrote. “Its use was under a medical prescription, and always under the disposition and mandates of the UCI, without any other purpose to treat my knee problems, to assure that I could participate in the Volta a Portugal.”
Marque, 32, raced most of his career in small, third-level Portuguese teams, but signed a contract to join Movistar for 2014 following his victory in the Volta.
Team officials, however, confirmed that they have rescinded the contract, citing Marque’s pending investigation and possible two-year ban.
“In the light of the news published by the media today, and following convenient verification of the facts, Abarca Sports informs that the rider, Mr. Alejandro Marque, who was set to join Movistar Team’s roster for the upcoming season, will not make part of the squad,” the team said in a statement. “The contract signed between both parties will not come into effect on January 1st, 2014.”
Movistar signed former Euskaltel-Euskadi climber Igor Antón to a two-year deal this week.