Caruso facing potential lengthy ban after positive A sample for EPO; Katusha’s Vuelta participation won’t be affected

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The UCI has announced that the Italian rider Giampaolo Caruso has had a positive A sample for EPO, with retesting of a sample taken over three years ago showing traces of the banned substance.

The Katusha rider – who was also racing for the Russian team then – was subjected to an out of competition test on March 27 2012. While this didn’t reveal the presence of banned substances at the time, retesting was carried out and this has caught the rider.

“The sample had been stored and was reanalysed in light of new scientific developments,” stated the UCI in a communiqué.

“As per the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI ADR, the UCI has established a Storage and Reanalysis Strategy. The strategy, implemented by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), provides that samples from the leaders of the Grand Tours, UCI World Championships and general rankings of all cycling disciplines will be stored for potential retesting.

“Other samples, based on risk assessment carried out by the CADF, laboratory recommendations, Athlete Biological Passport data, new detection methods and scientific developments, will also be retained for retesting. The standard time of storage and further reanalysis under this strategy is up to 10 years.”

Given that Caruso had a largely anonymous season in 2012, the decision to retest his past samples suggest that concerns may have cropped up around biological passport issues, prompting the UCI to look deeper.

Caruso’s best result in 2012 was third in the Trofeo Melinda. His results since then include victory in the 2014 Milan-Turin race and fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This year he was sixth in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and tenth in Strade Bianche.

The 35 year old can request his B sample be analysed but, as the result is almost always the same as the A sample, he may be facing a ban of up to four years.

The announcement marks the second doping case for the Katusha team in recent months. Caruso’s team-mate Luca Paolini tested positive for cocaine during the Tour de France. No details have been announced from the B sample test but, providing both cases are confirmed, the team may be facing a suspension.

The UCI announced at the end of July that the Italian Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team would be sidelined for 30 days under article 7.12.1, which was introduced in January.

Davide Appollonio tested positive for EPO on June 14 while the blood-booster FG-4592 was detected in an out of competition control carried out on another Italian, Fabio Taborre, on June 16.

Article 7.12.1 states that a team notified of two anti-doping rule violations within a 12 month period will be automatically suspended for a period ranging between 15 and 45 days.

However while Katusha’s two cases have been announced within several weeks of each other, the UCI has told CyclingTips that this would not count as two positives under the regulation because Caruso’s test dates back to 2012.

As a result, it means that Katusha is not facing a potential suspension.

The team has responded to the news with a brief statement. It said it was notified of the finding by the UCI and, as per UCI regulations, he had been provisionally suspended.

“Bearing in mind the anti-doping regulations, the team will wait until the analysis of the B sample has been conducted before taking any further action or making further comment.

“However, Team Katusha would like to underline that this news comes as a complete shock.”

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