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Dutch rider Marc Lotz has been released from his contract with the Quick Step team after admitting a positive dope test, with the product concerned reported by l'Equipe to be the red blood cell-booster EPO. According to l'Equipe, Lotz admitted to using EPO during a judicial investigation.
In a statement released this afternoon (Wednesday), the Belgian team said that it had "received this morning a request for an immediate ending of the contract from the rider Marc Lotz."
The statement from team manager Patrick Lefvre continued: "The team regrets the huge error the rider has made. In view of the ethical charter to which we have committed ourselves and the serious infraction of the anti-doping regulations, the only thing we can is to end the rider's contract."
No confirmed details have yet been released about the dope test Lotz took and failed, although the rider has provided some information about the incident in a fax sent by his management company, SEM, to the Belga press agency. In the fax, Lotz states: "The fear of letting down both my team and those around me was such that I have decided to bow out in this way. I realise that what I have done is unacceptable.
"I realise that I can't shirk from my responsibilities, and so I have proposed that my contract be ended with immediate effect. I hope that my actions will prevent any other damage being caused to the team."
The 30-year-old rider joined Quick Step this season after eight years with Rabobank, and has played a key role in a number of Quick Step team leader Tom Boonen's successes this year. According to sources in Belgium, Lotz had being using EPO as part of his preparation for the Tour de France.
Meanwhile, Portuguese rider Nuno Ribeiro, who was released from his contract with the Liberty Seguros team last month after delivering an elevated red blood cell count prior to the Giro d'Italia has said in a statement that drug tests subsequently undertaken on him all returned a negative result.
"I didn't take any doping product, nor did I try to start the Giro d'Italia in conditions different to those laid down by the International Cycling Union. The counter-analysis is clear, the result is negative," Ribeiro said in his statement. Ribeiro also expressed his desire to return to racing in the statement.
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