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Mass anti-doping operation sees 41 riders tested two stages in a row at Volta a Portugal

Joe Robinson
6 Aug 2018

41 riders from six teams subject to two days of surprise 'intelligence-led' testing

A large-scale anti-doping operation has been undertaken by authorities at the ongoing Volta a Portugal, with no fewer than 41 riders being tested on one stage. It's believed that this is part of a premeditated operation spearheaded by the Portuguese and Spanish anti-doping authorities.

Portuguese newspaper Record reported that 41 riders from six teams were picked to provide urine samples and have their biological passport checked immediately after Stage 3 from Serta to Oliveira do Hospital. 

These same 41 riders were then surprised with another round of testing the very next day at the end of Stage 4 from Guarda to Penhas da Saude. 

The six teams that had riders tested - RO-Boavista, Sporting-Tavira, W52-FC Porto, Aviveludo-Louletano, Efapel and Vito-Feirense-BlackJack - are all Portuguese registered.

It is believed that this operation had been prepared for long in advance by the Portuguese and Spanish authorities.

There has been a noticeable increase in mass-scale, intelligence-led anti-doping operations at smaller men's elite stage races.

In December 2017, 12 riders were informed of an Adverse Analytical Finding for samples collected at the Vuelta Ciclista Internacional Costa Rica.

In a statement, the UCI confirmed the operation was 'intelligence-led' and undertaken with the cooperation of Costa Rican anti-doping.

Similar to this, the UCI also reported that an 'intelligence-led' operation led to eight individual riders being notified of an AAF at the Vuelta a Colombia in November of 2017.

Finally, Gonzalo Najar is under a provisional suspension following a drug test in January of this year at the Vuelta a San Juan, a race he later won, alongside teammate Gaston Javier.

Again, these controls were attributed to being intelligence-led.

The UCI is yet to release a statement regarding the mass testing at the Volta a Portugal and it has yet to be confirmed whether any of the tests have returned an adverse finding.

The race is currently led by W52-FC Porto's Raul Alarcon with six stages left to race.

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