Tour of Spain 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 International Cycling Union (UCI) said the Spaniard and his former Xacobeo teammate David Garcia da Pena both tested positive for a banned substance, Hydroxyethyl Starch, also known as HES.
It said urine samples were collected from them at an in-competition test at the Tour of Spain 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 Tour of Spain.
"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, which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, can theoretically enhance performance by its ability to increase the blood volume, allowing red blood cells to continue to deliver oxygen to the body.
It is also known to fluidify the blood, thus being able to mask the use of blood boosting substances such as EPO (erythropoietin) by reducing the haematocrit level.
The UCI has set a permitted threshold of 50 percent for haematocrit. Riders who are found to have readings of 50 or above are provisionally suspended, pending further investigation.
The news followed hot on the heels of three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador's positive test for trace amounts of another banned substance, clenbuterol.
© AFP 2010