Questionable positive of Vuelta a Guatemala winner
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Questionable positive of Vuelta a Guatemala winner

by Bjorn Haake at 7:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

Nery Felipe Velásquez, the winner of the Vuelta a Guatemala in October, tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid. The sample was analyzed by a lab in Canada and was the only one of the ten samples taken that showed a positive result. Velásquez, accompanied by his coach Óscar Martín of the Café Quetzal team, was already questioned by officials.

Carlos Hermes, member of the medical staff responsible for handling the doping controls at the race, couldn't exclude a possible mishandling of the samples. "What happened in the lab we can't determine, but what is certain in the case of Nery is that it doesn't make sense that one day before he tests negative, one day positive and then the next day negative again," Hermes told Prensa Libre.

Velásquez was tested ten times in the 12-stage race and all samples were negative, except the one from the next to last day, on October 31. Another test was done on November 1, the final day of the race. "Boldenone is a substance that doesn't disappear from one day to the next. There were cases where it stayed in the body for six months, which means it is impossible that there are different results within 24 hours," Hermes said.

The questioning happened at the Olympic Guatemalan Committee (COG) headquarter. In attendance were Fernando Beltranena (former president of the COG), medical experts Carlos Hermes and Rafael Robles (World Anti Doping Agency representative), Marco Tulio García (Guatemalan National Anti Doping Agency), Mario Marroquín and Gerardo Vettorazi (both from the Guatemalan cycling federation).

There was another rider questioned for the same offence, Alfredo Ajpacajá (Cable DX-Decorabaños). Both Velásquez and Ajpacajá tested positive during the Vuelta a Guatemala and therefore could face that their results will be nullified. This would be bitter for Velásquez, who stormed into the lead in the shortened stage seven and never relinquished it. Ajpacajá finished 40th in the race and fourth overall in the U23 classification.

Appeal to the UCI

The documents and the statements from the staff involved will be forwarded to the International Cycling Union, UCI. The goal of the Guatemalan federation is to nullify the doping results, due to apparent mishandling.

"There could have been an error in the lab, we don't know. Maybe they weren't handled right, maybe they exchanged the codes on the samples. This type of error is rare, but it can happen. It's just not logical what unfolded here," Hermes said

The UCI could also ask for a DNA test, to make sure the sample is really from Velásquez. The rider has already requested a B sample analysis. The UCI has until January 5 to either present all its evidence or analyze the B-sample.


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