Heras retires

Spaniard ends sponsorship quest after doping ban

Three-time Tour of Spain winner Roberto Heras, whose two-year doping ban ended in October, confirmed Saturday that he has decided to quit professional cycling.

"I've thrown in the towel, there's no going back," Heras, 33, told Spanish sports daily Marca.

Heras said he had received offers from cycling teams but because of the anti-doping code of ethics he cannot join a ProTour outfit for two years.

"I still don't understand the code of ethics and why ProTour teams can't hire a rider who like me has served his ban. Other top riders will have to quit the peloton because they can't find a team."

Heras added: "Cycling is going through a bad period: teams, organisers, the UCI (International Cycling Union) are at war, there is no unity, so it's very difficult to get out of the crisis."

Heras was suspended for two years in October 2005 after testing positive for the banned blood booster EPO in the final stages of that year's Tour of Spain just as he was set to secure a record fourth triumph.

The former Liberty Seguros rider had said in the past that he was planning to return to the sport after completing his ban.

His decision to retire follows that of compatriot Joseba Beloki, a three-time podium finisher on the Tour de France.

Beloki, 34, had been without a team since being implicated, along with dozens of other cyclists, in the 'Operation Puerto' doping affair.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2007

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