Former Portuguese champion Cabreira found guilty of anti-doping violation by CAS
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Former Portuguese champion Cabreira found guilty of anti-doping violation by CAS

by Conal Andrews at 8:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

Portuguese rider João Cabreira is facing a two year ban after the Court of Arbitration for Sport CAS ruled that he had committed a doping violation. Cabreira’s case has wide-reaching implications as he has been found guilty of manipulating a urine sample rather than taking a banned substance.

If the same standard was applied elsewhere, this could have resulted in the banning of many more riders in recent years.

The-then 25 year old was tested in May 2008 as part of investigations into the LA/MSS team. His team-mate Bruno Neves crashed and died during the Classica de Amarante, but it was suspected afterwards that he had suffered heart failure before hitting the ground. This led to suspicions of doping by the team, and large numbers of banned products were seized.

Cabreira’s sample was analysed by the Spanish anti-doping laboratory in Madrid. While it didn’t find traces of EPO, the urine protein values were sufficiently suspicious as to lead officials to conclude that the climber had used the enzyme protease to remove any sign of the hormone. This was verified by a subsequent analysis in Cologne, Germany.

Protease is a chemical substance which acts to break down proteins. One type is found in washing powers, and it has long been rumoured to have been used by riders to escape detection after they took the blood booster. This was achieved by dropping powder or a miniscule tablet containing the substance into the urine sample, thus destroying traces of the banned product.

A certain amount of natural, or endogenous, EPO should be present in samples. Because of that, a tell-tale sign of protease use is when all bodily traces of the hormone are completely missing. This is reported to have occurred in many anti-doping tests involving other riders around that time.

Cabreira is a former winner of the Volta ao Algarve and has national road race and time trial victories to his credit. He was originally suspended by the Portuguese Cycling Federation on the grounds that he tried to cheat a doping control, but he successfully appealed this two year ban in February 2009.

At the time, the Portuguese Justice Council upheld his protests that the test had been conducted under methods not approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and that protease was not on the list of banned products.

However the latest ruling, as reported by LUSA, reverses the February 2009 decision. The grounds for the appeal was that Cabreira had not been accused of taking a banned substance, but rather of trying to destroy a sample, thus escaping any possible detection.

He is now set to be banned once more. He had previously served one month of suspension, and so his penalty is expected to last 23 months.

Today’s news strengthens the fight against doping in that it underlines that direct detection of a banned substance is not always required.


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