Positive EPO test for Mustafa Sayar in Algerian race, Tour of Turkey winner could lose title
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Positive EPO test for Mustafa Sayar in Algerian race, Tour of Turkey winner could lose title

by Shane Stokes at 10:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Presidential Tour of Turkey
 
Race organiser ‘very disappointed’ but says Turkish event will continue

Mustafa SayarQuestions over the dramatic improvement shown by Turkish rider Mustafa Sayar during this year’s Presidential Tour of Turkey appear to have been answered today, with Turkish journalist Omer Yavru of TRT reporting earlier today that the Team Torku competitor tested positive during the earlier Tour of Algeria.

Since then the UCI has confirmed the news, saying that the 24 year old had provided a sample on March 11th which showed traces of EPO. A B sample analysis is yet to be carried out, but he is provisionally suspended.

Sayar finished second overall in the March event, then the following month he dominated the 2.HC Presidential Tour of Turkey, despite going up against riders and teams with far more experience.

Sayar took the lead with an assertive performance on stage six, breaking clear on the final climb to Selcuk, hitting the line eighteen seconds clear of Cofidis pair Yoann Bago and Nicolas Edet, and deposing the then-leader Natnael Berhane (Europcar).

That performance led to raised eyebrows and more from other competitors. Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano) appeared to be referring to Sayar when he tweeted ‘I was not often in my life so angry about a result of someone else. And I see many people around me feeling the same. #TourofTurkey’.

Astana rider Kevin Seeldrayers was similarly sceptical, as this video interview shows.

Providing the B sample confirms the A result – which almost always is the case – Sayar will lose his runner-up slots in Algeria and the Tour de Blida, plus his Tour of Turkey title. He will also be stripped of his silver medal in the Turkish national time trial championships and fourth in the TT in the Mediterranean Games in June.

Contacted by VeloNation, race organization director Aydin Ayhan Guney said that he was very disappointed with the news.

“I can confirm the positive test in the Tour of Algeria,” he said, adding that he understood the substance concerned to be EPO. “They are now asking for a confirmation for confirm of the B sample.”

If that shows the same result, it would be the second year running that the Turkish race winner would be disqualified, with Sayar’s then-Torku team-mate Ivailo Gabrovsky being popped for EPO during the 2012 event.

Sayar rode the same race fifteen months ago and was completely anonymous. He was 173rd out of 187 finishers on the mountain stage to Elmali, losing over half an hour, and then rode for Gabrovsky for the remainder of the race. He finished third-last overall, one hour 41 minutes 31 seconds off yellow.

Because of that, his utter turnaround this year provoked suspicions, and also his elusive responses to questions about that improvement.

On the day of his mountain stage win, Sayar was told by a journalist during the press conference that some riders in the peloton had doubts. “What would you say to your colleagues?” he was asked.

His response was brief. “I don’t have an answer for them,” he said (see video), before waiting for the next question.

The questions surfaced again in the press conference given at the conclusion of the race.

“As I told you before, we prepared for this race for maybe six months, doing a very hard tempo of training,” he explained, when asked about that jump in standard by VeloNation (see video interview here). “We were always abroad in foreign competitions. These competitions made me develop very much.

“Psychologically I was in a very good situation, I felt very good psychologically. I know that high altitude training also makes very good competition. Where I live is a place of very high altitude.”

When it was put to him that his team-mate had tested positive the previous year and that he had now made a similar jump, he rejected any suggestions that something was amiss. “Gabrovsky now is in the past. Now I am very confident of myself and I don’t think I will have this kind of problem,” he said.

“I am not happy to receive these kind of questions while there is nothing to be proven about myself. I am not happy to be asked these kind of questions.”

Speaking today, Ayhan Guney said that the likelihood was that he would lose his 2013 win. “Most probably he will disqualified from the Tour of Turkey,” he said. “I haven’t yet talked to the federation as this news is very recent. I don’t know what the federation will do. They will have a meeting in the following days and then likely make a decision about the team and the rider.”

VeloNation understands that after Sayar took the race lead, the Presidential Tour of Turkey organisers met with the Torku team and sought written assurances that there was nothing to fear about his jump in form. His team management insisted at the time that it was hiding nothing and that he was clean.

It is also understood that the organisers had concerns about taking the team back into the race after last year’s problem, but that it ultimately was able to do little about it.

“As it is the only Turkish team that can participate in the Tour of Turkey, we had to accept them,” said Ayhan Guney. “But for next year we will see what we can do. Maybe we will require all the teams to be in the biological passport before they get invitations. All of the other teams are already in it, but Torku was not.”

Fortunately, he said that he didn’t think there would be a danger to the Presidential Tour of Turkey’s future, as some had suggested. “I don’t think there will be a big harm to the race. It should go on.

“In fact, I think it is good to finally know this news. Everybody had a big question mark in their mind about Sayar, now there is an answer.”

He said that the organisation didn’t know how to respond to last year’s positive, and how to act going forward into 2013 with the Torku team. “None of us knew what to do. We never thought the same thing again would happen in the second year. I am sure from now on everyone will be more careful about the teams.”

Turkish sport has been rocked in recent days by the news that a large number of athletes had tested positive. It is thought that one major issue in the country is the ready availability of substances such as EPO in pharmacies.

Although prescriptions should be needed, a report carried out in Turkey showed that a large number of pharmacies would waive this requirement providing extra money was paid for the substance in question.


Also see:

Video: Sayar celebrating top career result after grabbing overall lead in Presidential Tour of Turkey
Video: Seeldraeyers: ‘I exploded myself on the climb trying to follow the Turkish guy’
Video: Sayar answers questions about Presidential Tour of Turkey win


Tour of Turkey winner Sayar claims EPO positive for earlier race may be a French conspiracy 

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