Sergio Henao withdrawn from racing by Team Sky amid concern over test results
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 19/03/14 2:32pm
Sergio Henao has been temporarily withdrawn from racing by Team Sky amid concern over his out-of-competition test results.
The 26-year-old returned to his native Colombia last October for winter training and underwent a series of World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited tests while living and riding at high altitude.
Team Sky’s staff, who monitor the physiology of their riders on a monthly basis, expressed concerns about the results of those controls.
The team has consequently highlighted them to both the International Cycling Union (UCI), cycling’s world governing body, and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), which looks after anti-doping for the UCI, and is set to investigate further.
Henao has been removed from Team Sky's race schedule “for at least eight weeks” pending the conclusion of an "altitude research programme".
In a statement, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “In our latest monthly review, our experts had questions about Sergio’s out-of-competition control tests at altitude - tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities. We need to understand these readings better.
“We contacted the relevant authorities - the UCI and CADF – pointed to these readings and asked whether they could give us any insights. We have also taken Sergio out of our race programme whilst we get a better understanding of these profiles and his physiology.
“We want to do the right thing and we want to be fair. It is important not to jump to conclusions.”
Henao, whose cousin Sebastian also rides for Team Sky, was born at altitude in the town of Rionegro, in north-west Colombia, and returns there for winter training every year.
Our own understanding is limited by a lack of scientific research into altitude natives such as Sergio.
Sir Dave Brailsford
Team Sky's next step will be to investigate the effects of training at altitude, working in conjunction with Wada and Henao himself, who will return to Colombia for further testing.
Brailsford added: “Sergio was raised in the mountains, goes back in winter and lives and trains at different levels. We have looked as far as we can at the effects of this, but our own understanding is limited by a lack of scientific research into altitude natives such as Sergio.
“We are commissioning independent scientific research to better understand the effects of prolonged periods at altitude after returning from sea level, specifically on altitude natives.
“The independent experts are looking to use Wada-accredited laboratories and Team Sky will make the data and findings available to Wada, the UCI and CADF.
“Sergio will help with this programme and we expect him to be out of the race schedule for at least eight weeks. Once we have completed our assessment, we will decide on the right steps and give a full update.”
Henao's only race of the 2014 season so far was the Tour of Oman last month, where he finished seventh in the general classification.