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Huge doping bust in Portugal sees 7 pros receive 25 years worth of bans

Sanctions come after lengthy investigation

Seven Portuguese pro cyclists, have been handed bans ranging from three to seven years, according to Portuguese reports. Joao Rodrigues, the winner of both 2019 Tour of Portugal and the 2021 Volta ao Algarve, received a four-year ban from the UCI. The ban is based on anomalies in his biological passport, as well as a “possession of a banned method,” according to Portuguese anti-doping authorities.

The news follows several doping cases in Portugal, including the W52-FC Porto team, a continental team. The squad had its racing license suspended by the UCI earlier in the summer. The national federation had been working with police in an investigation that was dubbed “Prova Limpa,” which translates to “clean trial.”

Drug raids at Volta a Portugal

The other riders who received bans include the 2016 Tour of Portugal winner Rui Vinhas, the 2011 winner Ricardo Mestre, Daniel Mestre, Ricardo Vilela, Samuel Caldeira and Jose Neves. Each one of them received a three year ban for possession of banned products. Portuguese officials said that Vinhas and Daniel Mestre were found to have betamethasone, a steroid. Ricardo Mestre, Caldeira and Neves had been using human growth hormones.

Currently, only WorldTour and pro continental teams are required to use biological passports in Portugal, but the federation says that next year they will extend the protocols to continental teams as well.