May 18, 2020 / 6:25 PM / 16 days ago

Mexican rider suspended by EF Education First team

(Reuters) - Mexican rider Luis Villalobos has been suspended indefinitely by his EF Education First team after a potential anti-doping violation in 2019 while with his previous team.

According to a letter the team received from world governing body the UCI, an out-of-competition sample given by Villalobos last April indicated the presence of a growth-hormone releasing peptide known as GHRP-6.

“This team was set up to protect the health and the rights of riders across the sport, particularly the younger riders as they entered the professional level,” EF Education First CEO Jonathan Vaughters said Monday.

“It’s hugely upsetting for us when these young riders fall under the guidance of amateur doctors and trainers who ultimately ruin their careers.”

Villalobos, 21, joined the American team last August. The outfit said it was disappointed in the length of time taken for the adverse analytical finding to come to light.

“If we’d have known, we would not have signed Luis,” Vaughters said. “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.”

Villalobos, Mexico’s national road time trial champion, now has the right to request the opening and analysis of the B sample, which was collected at the same time.

“While it’s encouraging that the system is catching riders, it has to be more transparent and accountable than this,” Vaughters said. “We are going to encourage Luis to not fight this and to tell the truth, whatever that may be.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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