Roberto Heras doping clearance upheld, named Vuelta winner

Updated 22 December 2012
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Roberto Heras doping clearance upheld, named Vuelta winner

BARCELONA: Spain’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Roberto Heras — a former teammate of Lance Armstrong — must be reinstated as the winner of the 2005 Spanish Vuelta after it upheld a decision to clear him of a doping ban that had stripped him of the title.
Heras had previously won the Vuelta in 2000, 2003 and 2004 before he tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO in the second-to-last stage of the 2005 race.
The Spanish cycling federation responded by banning Heras for two years and annulling his win. The trophy was given to Russian rider Denis Menchov instead.
Heras retired after serving the ban, pointing to a lack of quality offers from elite racing teams.
In June 2011, a lower court ruled overturned the ban due to irregularities in the investigation.
On Friday, Spain’s highest court rejected an appeal brought by the Spanish cycling federation and government lawyers against last year’s decision that retroactively cleared Heras of the ban.
Federation spokesman Luis Roman told The Associated Press that “the federation will need to study the decision” but that the most likely result would be for Heras to be reinstated as the winner.
The 38-year-old Heras wrote on Twitter: “Many thanks to all of you who have supported me during these interminable seven years.” Heras’ four Vuelta wins will be a record for the event.
Heras, who was known as a strong climber in mountain stages, was a teammate of Armstrong on US Postal from 2001-2003 and helped him dominate the Tour de France during that period.
Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from cycling from life since a US Anti-Doping Agency report issued in October implicated him and his teams in a widespread drugs program.
In an interview with the AP in 2010, Heras refused to comment on allegations concerning Armstrong and the use of doping substances.
“I only have good things to say about Lance,” he said.
Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court coincided with the World Anti-Doping Agency suspending its accredited lab in Madrid from carrying out doping tests for three months.
The anti-doping body did not give a reason for the decision, other than saying it did not “meet ISL (International Standard for Laboratories) requirements.” In 2006, Spanish police implicated more than 50 cyclists in the Operation Puerto doping investigation.


Ahmed defends Pakistan squad as ‘best of the best’

Updated 31 min 13 sec ago
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Ahmed defends Pakistan squad as ‘best of the best’

  • Fawad Alam is a seasoned player, but the players we selected are also equally good and have been scoring continuously as well, says Pakistani skipper
  • Former test opener Ramiz Raja claims there are flaws in Alam’s batting technique

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has defended the 16-man national squad for tours of Ireland and England as the “best of the best” despite criticism over the omission of batsman Fawad Alam.
“It’s not like I voted him (Alam) out,” Ahmed said on the last day of Pakistan’s training camp in Lahore on Saturday, adding that “I would have picked all the 25 ... but we had to pick the best of the best 16 players.”
Wasim Akram was among several former Pakistan test players who have criticized selectors for ignoring Alam in the middle order — especially since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have now retired.
Alam was among 25 players called up for the camp after scoring consistently on the domestic circuit, but he failed to make the final squad.
Former test opener Ramiz Raja claimed there were flaws in Alam’s batting technique and that he would not have considered the left-hander, considering the tough conditions in England.
Ahmed played down the dispute.
“People can make as much reasons to talk, but there is nothing like flaws in anyone’s batting technique,” Ahmed said. “If you look back, Fawad had played a test in 2009 and he is a seasoned player ... (but) the players we selected are also equally good and have been scoring continuously as well.”
Ahmed said it had been a “unanimous decision” by coach, captain and selectors.
Pakistan has included uncapped batsmen Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali in the final 16, as well as Fakhar Zaman, who has done well in limited-overs cricket but is yet to play a test match.
Misbah and Younis will be missed on a tour of England where Misbah scored a century at Lord’s in 2016 and Younis made 218 at The Oval in the fourth test to draw the series 2-2.
Pakistan has two four-day matches against Kent and Northamptonshire before meeting Ireland in a one-off test at Dublin, starting May 11. It plays two tests against England, starting May 24.
Pakistan will also play Scotland on June 12-13 in two Twenty20 Internationals.
Pakistan faced a major blow when its premier legspinner Yasir Shah was ruled out due to injury. However, Ahmed said he wasn’t sure that Shadab Khan, who has played just one test match, would make it to the final team with the English conditions more suitable for pace.
“The weather will be much cooler and I am not even sure if we are going to play a spinner,” Ahmed said.