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The UCI said on Monday that Mexican national time trial champ Luis Villalobos, currently a member of the EF squad, was notified of an adverse analytical finding GHRP-6 (growth hormone-releasing hexapeptide), registered in an out-of-competition control on April 25 of last year.
Villalobos, 21, was riding for American Continental development squad Aevolo at the time before joining EF Education First in August.
He has been provisionally suspended pending further evaluation of the case, and has a right to request his B sample.
EF has released a statement addressing the news, expressing that it is “profoundly disappointed” that the violation has come to light “more than a year after the sample was taken” and saying that the team is “exploring its legal rights” regarding the lengthy delay.
“If we’d have known, we would not have signed Luis,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “The burden of this is on the UCI because there is no internal testing program that has access to the level of equipment needed to screen for GHRP-6.”
As the team press release notes, only WADA-accredited labs can test for GHRP-6, making it harder for teams to catch the substance via internal screening.
“Everyone deserves better. Luis deserved better guidance and mentoring from his past trainers and doctors. And the team deserved better from the UCI than to learn of this situation more than a year after the fact,” Vaughters said.
“While it’s encouraging that the system is catching riders, it has to be more transparent and accountable than this. We are going to encourage Luis to not fight this and to tell the truth, whatever that may be.”