Tour of Spain runner-up Mosquera tests positive

Fails control for hydroxyethyl starch

Tour of Spain runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera has tested positive for a banned substance, according to world cycling's ruling body the International Cycling Union (UCI) Thursday.

Mosquera, who finished second behind Italian Vincenzo Nibali in the three-week Tour of Spain earlier this month, failed a doping control for hydroxyethyl starch, also known as HES.

The Spaniard's teammate David Garcia Da Pena also tested positive for the same substance, according to the UCI. The samples of both riders were tested at a WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) accredited laboratory in Cologne.

A statement from the UCI said: "Earlier today the UCI advised Spanish riders David Garcia da Pena and Ezequiel Mosquera of their adverse analytical findings (for HES) in the urine samples collected from them at an in-competition test at the Tour of Spain on September 16.

"Both riders have the right to request and attend the analyses of their B samples.

"Under the World Anti Doping Code and the UCI anti-doping rules the UCI is unable to provide any additional information at this time."

The substance, which is banned by WADA, can theoretically enhance performance by its ability to increase the blood volume, allowing red blood cells to continue to deliver oxygen to the body.

HES 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.

Prior to his Tour of Spain performance Mosquera, 34, held no major victories but since 2007 has finished in the Tour of Spain's top five overall, and this year came close to winning the race.

Mosquera's performance allowed him to recently sign a lucrative two-year deal with Dutch squad Vacansoleil. His Xacobeo-Galicia team is currently in a fight for its survival due to financial difficulties.

The news follows hot on the heels of Alberto Contador's positive test for trace amounts of clenbuterol earlier Thursday.

The three-time and reigning Tour de France champion was provisionally suspended by the UCI ahead of further investigation to determine whether Contador, as claimed, ingested the drug due to food contamination.

© AFP 2010

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