Over a year after his-then Katusha team announced that Denis Menchov was walking away from the sport, citing a knee injury as the reason, it has emerged that the Russian rider has been suspended for biological passport violations.
In a list of doping sanctions displayed on its website, Menchov is listed as having been given a two year ban running until April 9 2015. In addition to that, it states that he has been disqualified from the Tour de France in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
The UCI has not yet issued a statement on the matter.
He was a distant 48th in the first of those editions, flopping after winning that year’s Giro d’Italia. He was third in 2010 behind Alberto Contador (Astana) – who was himself disqualified months later – plus Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank). In 2012 he placed fifteenth overall.
In May of last year Russian media sources stated that Denis Menchov was retiring with immediate effect from the sport. The Katusha team confirmed on May 22 that the former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España winner was walking away.
“Russian Katusha Team rider Denis Menchov has announced early retirement from professional cycling. The reason of the rider’s decision is the knee problem which doesn’t allow him to get a normal preparation for participation in the most important races of the season,” stated the team at the time.
“The 2013 contract of Denis Menchov was terminated by the mutual agreement of Katusha Team management and the rider.”
Prior to that point CyclingTips had printed a article by a WorldTour rider writing under the pseudonym The Secret Pro. That piece stated that a former Grand Tour winner was facing a bio passport case; this plus Menchov’s sudden retirement prompted speculation that the Russian’s decision to walk away might have been for other reasons.
However when contacted by this writer at the time, a UCI spokesperson appeared to dismiss any suggestions of a positive case. “Currently there is no disciplinary procedure open on the basis of the biological passport,” stated UCI Communications Manager Devra Pitt Gétaz, when asked if Menchov was under investigation.
CyclingTips has sought clarification from the UCI over that denial, but has not yet received a reply.
The Menchov case appears to be a departure from the normal pattern, as the opening of a biological passport disciplinary procedure is usually announced by the governing body. The case of Tinkoff Saxo rider Roman Kreuziger is a recent example.
Update: The UCI has confirmed the news in a brief statement released to CyclingTips. It reads as follows:
‘The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms having imposed a 2-year ban on Russian rider Denis Menchov as a result of his anti-doping rules violation based on his Athlete Biological Passport. The rider is declared ineligible until 9 April 2015 and is disqualified from the Tour de France 2009, 2010 and 2012. No further communication will be made on this case.’