Portuguese rider Andre Cardoso insists that he has never used the forbidden substance, despite testing positive for EPO.
The positive test was announced by the UCI on Tuesday, leading both the governing body and the rider’s team Trek-Segafredo to suspend him with immediate effect. Cardoso was expected to support teammate Alberto Contador in the Tour de France.
“Today, I received notification from the UCI that my A Sample, from a urine test done at my home on June 18th, tested positive for Erythropoietin,” he said in a statement issued on his Facebook page. “I have requested to the UCI that my B sample be tested as soon as possible.
“Getting the chance to ride at the pinnacle of professional cycling is the greatest honour I could ever hope for, and I was looking forward to doing my best for my team and myself at the Tour. I believe in clean sport and have always conducted myself as a clean athlete, but I realize that this news puts a dark cloud on not just myself but also on our sport and my team, teammates and staff.
“Before anything else, those people are my friends and colleagues for whom I have unlimited respect, and under no circumstances would I ever do something that could put them, their families or their reputations in jeopardy.”
“I am fully aware that I will be presumed to be guilty, but it’s important to me to say that I am devastated by this news and I wanted to state that I have never taken any illegal substances. I’ve seen firsthand through my career the awful effects that performance-enhancing drugs have had on our sport, and I would never want to be a part of that. I’ve always tried to be a constructive influence in the peloton and on young, aspiring cyclists. It is my great hope that the B sample will come back as negative and clear me of any wrongdoing.”
The 32-year-old rider moved to the Trek-Segafredo team from Cannondale-Drapac last winter and was set to ride his first Tour.