Wednesday, August 03, 2011

In Astarloza's words

Mikel Astarloza's return to professional cycling is sure to draw the ire of quite a few Euskaltel fans - and fans of the sport in general - and he knows it. The 31-year-old tested positive for EPO back in July 2009 and is to this day adamant that his case is a case of a false positive, never mind the fact that he's never come up with an explanation for it. Anyway, to address these doubters Astarloza has written a small post, a letter if you'd like, on his own website outlining his support for a clean sport and all that. Here goes:

"I've always regarded cycling as a sport that installs good values in it's young riders. Sacrifice, breaking your own limits, determination, ambition and perseverance are values that cycling, like no other sport, reflects. These values were installed in me, and cycling taught me that these values will enable the youth of Euskal Herria to achieve their dreams. I'm actively committed in transferring these values to them and to Basque cycling in general.

As I've always assumed this responsibility, I support and will continue to support all initiatives from local as well as international organizations that help to promote a clean sport free of cheats.

I now embark on a new stage with the illusion of a debutant and the experience of a veteran. A stage that commences where I was two years ago: at home, with Euskaltel Euskadi.

I feel privileged and am deeply grateful for both the endless support I've received and the solidarity I've felt during this period."


Stephen said...

He did give this explaination at the time

"Details have emerged in the Basque press regarding the defence Euskaltel's Mikel Astarloza is likely to put up against his positive test for EPO in June, which could see him stripped off his Tour de France stage win in July.

According to Deia, that defence is being organised by ex-pro and now lawyer José Rodríguez, who believes that Astarloza's problems stem from a session on his home trainer in a hyperbaric tent immediately prior to undergoing a random test on June 26. Hyperbaric tents are designed to replicate the effects of riding at altitude, thereby stimulating the natural production of red blood cells and boosting the haematocrit level.

"The fact that two minutes before [the testers turned up] he had been on the home trainer in this tent altered his values to the point where it led to errors being made when the results were analysed," Rodríguez told Deia. "This isn't something that the scientists have made up. Professional studies have been published on this subject." Rodríguez added that "if the control had been done an hour later we would not now be talking about the Astarloza case."

I know that the 'blood passport' idea was fairly new then but as he says, they did have his values for the past three years and his wasn't a targeted control, just a random. He had been riding at roughly the same level for a number of years so either he had been using EPO all that time or it may just be possible that he is innocent.

Personally, I'm willing to give him the benifit of the doubt...maybe I'm too trusting but,while we are on the subject,I also think that Contador is innocent .

Magnus said...

Yeah I know Stephen, the 'hyperbaric tent'-explanation was given at the time but was widely discredited in certain sections as it does not explain how the EPO got into his blood. A high haematocrit level does not result in a positive for EPO. As far as I know his haematocrit levels weren't the problem, the synthetic EPO was.

But it's true as you say that his numbers had been fairly consistent leading up to the test - and this naturally speaks in his favour - so in no way is it an easy case to judge.

Bolsen3 said...

I think it is an very easy case, EPO was found in his blood, he's guilty, no doubt!

The explanation is shit, no less than that. That excuse could be used if he was accused for doping because of values in his blood pass. But it in no way explains how EPO mysteriously got into his blood. Hmmmm, I wonder how it god there, maybe he ate a beef contaminated with EPO? Could be, right?

The fact that his values has been consistent does not clear him in any way, nor does it make his case difficult. It can mean that a) he has doped all the time, B) he has only used mini dosages of EPO (witch in fact is the only way you can dope with EPO nowadays).

EPO was found in his blood, these are probably the easiest cases of all. The reason he never got cleared? Because he's guilty...


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