The cycling world was rocked last season when two-time Grand Tour champion Nairo Quintana tested positive for tramadol, a painkiller not yet banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at the time. Although not a traditional performance-enhancing substance, Tramadol's inclusion on the UCI's banned list has raised many questions about cyclists' intentions and ethics.
Faced with an immediate disqualification from the 2022 Tour de France and ostracized by his former team Arkea-Samsic, Quintana finds himself in an unexpected limbo. With limited offers on the table, he decided to take a break from professional racing as his future was uncertain.
He didn't advertise himself much in public, it seems that he wanted to take a complete break from work and everything.
One year contract
However, there was a surprise twist recently when Movistar, who represented Spanish cycling giant Quintana from 2012 to 2019, announced his return to the team on a one-year deal.
This decision caused excitement but also skepticism in the cycling community. Eusebio Unzue, Movistar's general manager, defended the controversial move, citing Quintana's past achievements and the unfairness of his situation.
"He found himself in an unfair situation," Unzue told Mondo Deportivo. "Cycling has not been fair to him. Even though he made two mistakes, he still has the right to compete. We just couldn't sit idly by because he is mostly a good man and the human aspect also played a big part in signing the contract.
We think still has a lot to offer." Unzue went on to emphasize Quintana's potential value as a back-up rider for Enrico Maso, Movistar's current star climber. "He can play a big role as a helper for Maso," Unzue said. Quintana's experience and climbing ability could prove invaluable to Maso's Grand Tour ambitions." Quintana's return to Movistar marks a significant chapter in his career.
Whether he can regain his former glory and silence his critics remains to be seen. The upcoming season will be a key test for his physical abilities because he has not competed for a long time, but the most interesting thing will be to see how he will manage after this scandal because he enjoyed great respect.