Fed up with the endless number of Spanish riders suspended for doping, UCI president Patrick McQuaid went on the offensive.
Instead of simply banning specific riders, McQuaid took the bold, unilateral approach of sanctioning the entire country.
“I’m fed up, I’m frustrated, I’m done, Spain is out,” said McQuaid. The two year ban applies to all Spanish riders, the Spanish cycling Federation and Spanish cycling clubs.
“They don’t take their own doping laws seriously, there’s no enforcement, it’s easier to get EPO in Spain than a glass of cava and tapas,” the Irishman went on to say. “It’s got to stop and I am stopping it.”
In recent weeks several high profile Spanish riders have tested positive for banned substances. Vuelta a Espana runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera was popped for Hydroxyethyl starch (HES) while Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is under suspicion for blood doping after traces of clenbuterol and a plasticizer were found in his urine.
Officials at the Spanish Cycling Federation responded to the ban with calls for McQuaid’s resignation. “He cannot do this. It is absurd and illegal. Just because we are lax and turn a blind eye, you cannot ban an entire country,” said Sergio Caliente.
Besides Contador and Mosquera, Xacobeo Galicia’s David Garcia Dapena, Oscar Sevilla and top Spanish mountain biker Margarita Fullana have all recently failed drug tests.
“They think I’m joking but far from it. When the 2011 season starts, you can forget Spain. Screw ’em. I’m tempted to ban all the latin countries. I’m striking the whole lot off the start lists. Except for Oscar Freire who we’re getting a special license for — I trust him,” said McQuaid.
While experts debate the legality and ramifications of banning Spain, the UCI president pulled no punches. “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country failed a dope test: riders, team managers, doctors, pharmacists, even the steaks can’t pass a test. Yesterday, I was at a restaurant in Madrid and found a syringe in my paella. Enough already.”