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by Shane Stokes
September 5, 2018
Photography by Cor Vos
Bahrain-Merida pro rider Kanstantsin Siutsou has been handed a provisional suspension by the UCI after a positive A sample in a doping control.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that Belarusian rider Kanstantsin Siutsou was notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of Erythropoietin in a sample collected in the scope of an out-of- competition control on 31 July 2018,” stated the world governing body in a communication released on Wednesday morning.
It said that the control was “planned and carried out by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF).” This plus the fact that Siutsou was not racing on the day in question suggests that it was a targeted control. It remains to been if such a targeting of the rider was due to information given by others, by anomalies in his biological passport or other factors.
Siutsou has competed with many of the top teams in the sport. His past contracts include four year stints with HTC-Highroad and Team Sky, plus more recent seasons with Team Dimension Data and Bahrain-Merida.
In its reaction to the news, the team said that it holds its riders and staff “to the highest ethical standards.”
“This news is terribly disappointing,” states Bahrain-Merida general manager Brent Copeland. “We are very severe with any wrongdoing with regards to our internal health code. This behaviour is not accepted by our team and further procedures will be taken against the rider.”
Siutsou is a multiple Belarussian national champion, a past stage winner in the Giro d’Italia, and overall victor in the Tour de Georgia. He has also placed ninth and tenth overall in the Giro d’Italia, and 16th in the Tour de France.
He won this year’s Tour of Croatia and went into the Giro d’Italia as one of the team’s strongest riders. However he crashed while doing reconnaissance of the course of the opening day time trial, suffering a composite fracture of the third cervical vertebra.
The UCI said that Siutsou has the right to request and attend the testing of his B-sample. At 36 years of age, his career hinges on the outcome of that second test.
Whatever the result, he has ridden his last race with his current team. “Siutsou’s contract expires on December 31st 2018 and Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team had notified the rider during the month of June that his contract would not be renewed,” it said.