Heras preparing his defence

Roberto Heras and his legal team are hoping that their claims of procedural errors in the testing pr

Roberto Heras and his legal team are hoping that their claims of procedural errors in the testing pr


While most of us have been enjoying a break from work during the Christmas holidays, Roberto Heras and his legal team have been working hard to prepare the former Liberty Seguros rider's defence after he was found positive for the blood-booster EPO at the Vuelta in September. Heras has a hearing with the Spanish cycling federation's compeititions' commission on January 13, when a two-year ban from the sport and his loss of the Vuelta title could well be confirmed.

"We are still pulling together information and documents," Heras's lawyer, Jos Maria Buxeda, told Marca, "but I think things are coming together rather well for us. I think that we have right on our side and I believe, and this is the most crucial point, that we are going to be able to prove it."

Buxeda insists that errors were made in the drug testing procedure that ended with Heras being declared positive for EPO use. "In addition, the methodology is not trustworthy because it gives 'false' positives. This isn't what I am saying but what first-rate scientists are saying," said Buxeda.

He added: "We have found seven or eight procedural errors, which gives an idea of how these things are done and the insecurity that exists. There were problems with transportation and how the samples were stored, because the flasks were kept for 36 hours in unsuitably warm conditions. Moreover, the Madrid laboratory hasn't not been accredited for EPO testing by the National Body of Accreditation, which has accredited the lab in Barcelona."

Buxeda is hoping that this evidence and more that he refused to reveal will lead to no sanction being imposed on Heras by the Spanish federation. However, in the likely event that things do not go Heras's way on January 13, Buxeda suggested that legal action would probably be taken by the rider in Spain's civil courts.

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