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Although his case has not been as high profile as that of Roberto Heras, like his fellow winner of the Vuelta a Espa¤a, in January Aitor Gonzalez will learn of his fate following a positive doping test. The Spanish federation's competitions' committee will be meeting early in January to discuss both riders' positive dope controls, which both occurred at this year's Vuelta.
In a similar way to Heras, 2002 Vuelta winner Gonzalez and his legal team are hoping that scientific evidence will lead to the Euskaltel rider being acquitted of any wrongdoing. Gonzalez tested positive in two controls at the Vuelta for an anabolic steroid, but he and his legal team maintain that the result was caused by use of a contaminated nutritional product.
Tests have been undertaken on the product concerned, Animal Pack, and Gonzalez's representatives believe they can show that the rider was innocent of any wrongdoing, and simply fell foul of using a product that had been manipulated in a Barcelona laboratory.
"In the case of Aitor Gonzalez there was no willingness [to dope], no negligence and no increase in performance," his representative, Angel Buenache, told El Diario Vasco. According to the paper, in March this year Spain's Guardia Civil seized several thousand containers of Animal Pack that had been contaminated. It appears that Gonzalez may have been using some that had already slipped through the net.
Buenache pointed out that "this was the first time in cycling history that this metabolite had appeared in a rider's urine sample" and suggested that the product offered no potential improvement in performance.
As for Gonzalez, Buenache revealed that the rider is recovering from the deep depression that engulfed him when news of the positive control was announced, but expressed doubts about whether the Basque will compete again. "What we don't know is whether Aitor will stay in the sport if he is absolved or whether he will leave it. This is something he will have to decide himself," said Buenache.
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