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Suspended without pay from his position with Liberty Seguros team after testing positive in an A sample for the blood-booster EPO at the Vuelta, Roberto Heras spoke to Marca yesterday at his home in Bejar, western Spain, and told them he is "finding the situation difficult to bear".
"I believe that this will turn out to be nothing more than a passing nightmare," said the Vuelta winner, who faces having that title stripped and his career probably ended if he his B test also gives a positive result for EPO on November 21. "Without doubt this is the worst moment of my sporting career. But I don't want to be the victim in this affair, I believe that the lab has made a mistake and that I must focus on showing that, and for that reason I have put my case in the hands of a specialist lawyer. I just have to be patient."
Heras revealed that he had gone over incidents in the days before his test, trying to think of anything out of place that might have happened, but admitted he can't remember anything in particular. He has also leant heavily for support on those around him. "I have never received such support, not only from my family, but also from my fans and friends, and that gives me pride and the desire to keep on fighting."
Heras said that he had no idea as yet whether he would take any kind of action should his second test be revealed as negative. "At the moment all I am concerned with is showing my innocence and that my name is not associated with incidents like these," he stated.
He also pointed out that he had never received such interest from the press and onlookers before, even when he won the first of his record four Vuelta titles. "This is the first time I've seen people posted outside my house, but we are now used to the fact that these issues generate more news than those that are really important, which are sporting achievements. But I feel calm because I've got nothing to hide."
Heras had a message for all of those who have doubts about cyclists. "People must realise that cyclists have specific qualities and training that enables us to compete in this sport, and that cycling is a clean sport."
While waiting for November 21, he said he would "keep training and enjoying riding."
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