LONDON, March 19, 2014 (AFP) – British-based cycling team Sky said
Wednesday it was withdrawing Colombian rider Sergio Henao from competition
after an internal review led to questions over his blood values.
The 26-year-old was born at altitude in Rionegro and still lives and trains
in the region.
Now Sky have said Henao will be subject to an “altitude research program”.
It may be there is nothing sinister about Henao’s results.
“This begs the question – Has cycling swung to far to the other side to compensate for the lack of care during the Armstrong era? Are we now holding cyclists careers in the balance due to lack of knowledge? Would it not have been more prudent to conduct the ‘altitude research program’ first and then react after’. We are not sure of the answer, but we do believe that is definitely worth the discussion” Editor – Bicycle.net
But Sky, who have made great play of their commitment to the fight against
doping following several high-profile drugs scandals, including the Lance
Armstrong affair, that have damaged the reputation of cycling, have withdrawn
Henao from competition for eight weeks.
That move means he is unlikely to compete in the season-opening Giro
d’Italia, which starts in Belfast on May 9.
“Our experts had questions about Sergio’s out-of-competition control tests
at altitude – tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities. We
need to understand these readings better,” Sky principal Dave Brailsford told
the team’s website.
“We contacted the relevant authorities – the UCI (International Cycling
Union) and CADF (Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation) — pointed to these readings
and asked whether they could give us any insights.
“We’ve also taken Sergio out of our race program whilst we get a better
understanding of these profiles and his physiology.
“We want to do the right thing and we want to be fair. It’s important not
to jump to conclusions.”
– ‘Lack of research’ –
Team Sky’s Tour de France-winning duo of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome
have both been training at altitude, which builds up endurance and so helps to
improve performance when cyclists, or indeed long-distance runners, compete at
However, Brailsford said: “Our own understanding is limited by a lack of
scientific research into ‘altitude natives’ such as Sergio.
“We are commissioning independent scientific research to better understand
the effects of prolonged periods at altitude after returning from sea level,
specifically on altitude natives.
“The independent experts are looking to use WADA- (World Anti Doping
Agency) accredited laboratories and Team Sky will make the data and findings
available to WADA, the UCI and CADF.
“Sergio will help with this programme and we expect him to be out of the
race schedule for at least eight weeks. Once we have completed our assessment,
we’ll decide on the right steps and give a full update.”
WADA chief executive David Howman, attending the Tackling Doping in Sport
conference at London’s Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, called for Sky to share
the benefits of their altitude research with doping chiefs.
“I would think they would share it,” he said. “I would think If they’re in
a position where they’ve got data that nobody else has got, why wouldn’t they
want to share it?
The career of another Team Sky racer, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, remains
uncertain after his blood passport data was found to contain anomalies.
The 2012 Tour of Britain winner’s immediate fate now lies with the United
Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency.
UKAD chief executive Andy Parkinson said Wednesday a conclusion to the
Tiernan-Locke case, which emerged in October, was “imminent, a month or so,”
when asked about it at Wembley.
Parkinson added: “Clearly the issue with that case is that it was in the
public domain earlier than was ideal, and earlier than we put out a notice of
“The process has seemed longer than it has been because we only received
the notification after Christmas.
“Bio passport cases are difficult; difficult to run and you need a lot of
expert witnesses. So we’re co-ordinating all that.”