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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 16:35 GMT
Council chief defends Heras test
Roberto Heras
Heras won his fourth Tour of Spain in September
The head of the Spanish Sports Council (CSD) has defended the laboratory investigating Roberto Heras' suspected positive test for EPO.

Heras called for the suspension of tests on his B sample after they failed to confirm any traces of erythropoetin.

But Rafael Blanco, director general of the CSD, said on Thursday: "There are images of EPO in the test.

"If there hadn't been any, obviously the laboratory would have declared the analysis as a negative."

Blanco added: "The images are not clear enough to declare a positive so we have decided to continue with the same control. We have not started a new test as stated by the defence."

Heras was suspended after his initial sample tested positive for the banned substance at this year's Tour of Spain, with the result of the A test announced on 7 November.

It is right that there are controls but this method's unreliable
Roberto Heras
But on Wednesday Heras criticised the decision of laboratory director Francisco Rodriguez to wait another 48 hours, until Friday, before making a decision.

Heras has been suspended by his Liberty Seguros team pending the result of the B test.

"I want to reiterate once again that I've never taken a doping substance in my life," he said.

"I've got a completely clear conscience and I insist I've never taken EPO or anything else in my career.

"I think it is right that there are controls but this method's unreliable."

"The image of the test could not be read," Heras's lawyer Jose Maria Buxeda added.

"So the result should be that EPO has not been detected. This provides clear evidence that the process is flawed."

The 31-year-old rider, who won the Tour of Spain for a record fourth time this year, could face a long ban and be stripped of his Tour win if found guilty.

"It would have been madness to have committed a doping offence," he said. "It would have been incomprehensible and absurd," he added.


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