By Andrew Hood
In what’s yet another blow to Spanish cycling, three-time mountain bike world champion Marga Fullana has been provisionally suspended for testing positive for the banned blood booster EPO.
The UCI announced that Fullana was nabbed in an out-of-competition test conducted Aug. 30 and the sample tested positive for EPO after a sample was reviewed by a lab in Canada during the world mountain bike championships in August and September.
Somewhat surprisingly, Fullana admitted taking EPO after what she described as a difficult season for her both physically and emotionally. She also claims this is the first time she has used performance-enhancing products.
“I’ve done the stupidest thing of my life. I have had a very bad year, both emotionally and physically,” she wrote on her Web page. “I started the year with a lot of hope but I didn’t find my rhythm in any race. The pressure built, and along with personal problems, I didn’t win anything. … I have never taken ‘illegal’ substances, I didn’t need them. I was strong, I was motivated, but this year, despite trying over and over again, nothing worked out. I had the cursed chance to find this drug, but it was a quantity so small that I didn’t even notice an improvement. I wasn’t any better and at the worlds, it was just like all the other races, bad, and even worse.”
The bird-like Fullana, now 38, won world titles in 1999, 2000 and 2008 and was trained by ex-road pro Gert Jan Theunisse.
Fullana complained that she learned of her doping violation via the media rather than directly from sporting officials and apologized to fans and sponsors.
“I am stupid and I am brave enough to admit it. So many years working hard on my career, and one lapse, and everything’s in the trash can,” she said, hinting that her sporting career may be finished. “Now it’s time to turn the page. Life goes on. Now it’s time to find something else to do. I will not make any more commentary and try to forget this as soon as possible.”
The Fullana doping positive comes in what’s been a black week for Spanish cycling.
Tour king and top media star Alberto Contador tested positive for small traces of Clenbuterol, putting his 2010 Tour victory and his sporting career in the balance.
Ezequiel Mosquera and Xacobeo-Galicia teammate David Garcia tested positive during the recent Vuelta a España. The UCI also confirmed Friday a two-year ban and an 8,400 euro fine to Eladio Jimenez.