The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling's governing body, has provisionally suspended Juan Pablo Dotti, a seasoned Argentinian cyclist, following a positive drug test. The 39-year-old rider's sample revealed traces of CERA during the Road World Championships held in Glasgow.
Dotti has been representing the Sindicato de Empleados Pùblicos of San Juan team since 2017. The said doping test was administered on August 11, coinciding with the individual time trial in Stirling. Out of 77 competitors, Dotti finished 46th in the 47.8km race. He was 7:06 behind the reigning World Champion, Remco Evenepoel.
An accomplished cyclist, Dotti clinched the Argentinian Time Trial title in 2019. Yet, the recent revelation has thrust him alongside Miguel Angel López and Robert Stannard in the UCI's list of temporarily suspended riders.
This isn't Dotti's first brush with doping allegations. In 2011, he faced a two-year suspension after being tested positive for an anabolic agent and amphetamines during the Tulsa Tough stage race. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) guidelines, a subsequent positive result, if confirmed by his B-sample, could sideline him for four years.
CERA's Resurgence in Cycling History
Dotti's CERA result, a variant of the EPO synthetic red-blood cell enhancer, is the first in recent years for cycling. Between 2016 and 2018, a slew of CERA positive tests were reported in South America, impacting various riders and teams.
It's worth noting that CERA, commercially known as Mircera, was produced by Roche Pharmaceuticals, and approved in 2007 as an anaemia treatment. Roche, during its development phase, collaborated with WADA, allowing them an unprecedented upper hand in the battle against doping. This advantage led to multiple high-profile riders being flagged in 2008 and 2009.
For instance, the 2008 Tour de France had Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli test positive. Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin faced suspensions post the 2008 Olympics. In 2009, Danilo Di Luca lost his Giro second place due to doping violations.
This resurgence of doping concerns, with Dotti's case at the forefront, reiterates the ongoing challenges the cycling community faces in ensuring a level playing field.