UCI bans Cardoso four years in controversial EPO case

Despite André Cardoso's vigorous denials and a legal appeal, UCI bans Portugese rider four years for EPO positive from June 2017.

More than one year after André Cardoso was provisionally suspended for a failed anti-doping test that indicated the presence of banned blood booster EPO, the UCI has banned the Portuguese for four years. The cycling governing body confirmed the news Thursday.

Cardoso’s case was controversial because the results of Cardoso’s “B” sample test, performed by the Laboratoire Suisse d’Analyse du Dopage in Lausanne, Switzerland did not match that of his A sample taken just before the 2017 Tour de France on June 18.

Although a negative B sample ordinarily overrides a positive A sample, the Lausanne laboratory listed Cardoso’s result as an “Atypical Finding.” This gave the UCI leeway to sanction the 34-year-old.

Cardoso, 34, has declared his innocence from the very beginning.

“I said it is not possible. It is not possible. Is this a joke?” Cardoso told VeloNews last July. “Then I ask [the UCI’s lawyer] what is the substance, and he says, ‘EPO.’ I’m like this is crazy, nobody takes EPO. This is crazy for sure.”

Cardoso hired a lawyer and challenged the case, which dragged on for 16 months. He was given a provisional suspension from the UCI starting on June 27 of 2017.

Cardoso’s four-year ban will likely be backdated to the start of his provisional ban, meaning he would be eligible to return to pro cycling in 2021.

Cardoso turned professional in 2011 with Caja Rural before stepping up to the WorldTour in 2014 with Garmin-Sharp. He raced for three seasons with the American team before transferring to Trek-Segafredo for the 2017 season.

Cardoso said he was tested in June 2017 shortly after he completed the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he finished in 19th place. The result earned Cardoso a spot on Trek-Segafredo’s Tour de France squad for that year, which was revoked after the failed anti-doping test.