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The counter-analysis on the second sample given by Roberto Heras on stage 20 of this year's Vuelta is set to take place on 9am next Monday morning at the Consejo Superior de Deporte lab in Madrid. The results of the analysis are, assuming no leak as was the case with the first analysis, expected to be released three days later on November 24, confirming either Heras's positive test for the blood-booster EPO from his first sample or clearing the Liberty Seguros rider of any wrongdoing.
The testing procedure will be viewed by Heras's lawyer, Andreu Garriga, and an Italian chemistry expert from the University of Florence. Garriga already has experience in similar cases, having represented track rider Joan Llaneras when he tested positive for EPO and was subsequently cleared and former Kelme rider Javier Pascual Llorente, whose positive EPO test was confirmed.
At the moment, it is not expected that Heras will be present at the lab, although Garriga said the rider does want to be there. Garriga, however, has persuaded the Vuelta winner that his presence at the lab will serve no purpose.
Garriga has told AS that he is expecting Heras to be cleared, but also admitted that previous cases do not suggest that will happen. "I believe the counter-analysis will be negative, but in 95% of cases the counter-analysis is shown to be positive, but in this case I have reasons for belief," said the lawyer.
Asked what these reasons where, Garriga stated that "the method used to detect EPO in urine is not totally trustworthy. Also because of the results of the analysis, but above all because of the peaceful state in which Heras is facing up to all this."
He added: "Roberto says there has been an error because he hasn't taken anything. In his position I would be very worried, but Roberto is showing such serenity that he has passed it on to me."
Garriga concluded by acknowledging that all legal avenues would be followed to clear Heras if the counter-analysis is shown to be positive.
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