Sergio Henao, considered by many as one of the most exciting talents to come out of South America, has remarked he supports the anti-doping controls at Team Sky.
In a press statement released to websites, Henao explained that he understands the team’s attention to controlling blood values. Henao added that he has always believed in cycling’s ethical values, such as loyalty and respect for the rules. The rider also remarked he will be cooperating with Team Sky and other experts in order to complete all necessary and appropriate investigations and expressed complete confidence in the outcome of the checks that will be submitted shortly and expects to return to activity.
Team Sky forced Henao to withdraw from Giro d'Italia, the first Grand Tour, which begins in Belfast on 9 May. This was after the Colombian rider delivered some doubtful anomalous values. Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said in a team press release that our experts in our latest monthly review had questions about Sergio's out-of-competition control tests at altitude - tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities and added we need to understand these readings better. The rider will now back to his native country and will undergo further testing to understand the significance of these levels.
Team Sky added that they have contacted the relevant authorities - the UCI (the world governing body of cycling) and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation – pointed to these readings and asked whether they could give us any insights. It was added that this was not a doping offense. Team Sky also remarked we have also taken Sergio out of our race program whilst we get a better understanding of these profiles and his physiology and added we want to do the right thing and we want to be fair and it is important not to jump to conclusions. It also said that the team is looking into the physiological effects that has on the body as Henao lives at altitude in Riogengro, Colombia. Brailsford explained 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 and went on to add that Sergio will help with this program and we expect him to be out of the race schedule for at least eight weeks and once we have completed our assessment, we’ll decide on the right steps and give a full update.
Henao was expected to race at Tirreno-Adriatico. His last race was the Tour of Oman, where he finished just over a minute behind his team leader Chris Froome. This summer, the Colombian is due to ride the Critérium du Dauphiné and may make his debut at the Tour de France.
A UCI spokesperson, when asked about Henao's case, said the the UCI does not comment on individual cases but as a matter of principle we are supportive of teams pursuing a policy of closely monitoring their athletes and added this is something that has been monitored by the team. The spokesperson also remarked if a team has any concerns, then the appropriate course of action may well be to withdraw him from its race schedule whilst it continues its investigations.