Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner is fighting a report from Juan Mora of Spanish publication AS, which claims the rider missed a United States Anti-Doping Agency drug test on Monday.
Horner, the oldest winner of the Tour of Spain at the age of 41, was supposed to be available at his hotel, but anti-doping testers could not find him, per Shane Stokes of Velonation.com:
According to Spanish publication AS, the test was carried out by the Spanish anti-doping agency AEA early this morning.
It said that when it went to the room it expected him to be in, another rider of the team was sleeping there. It also stated that the testers went to a second hotel and he was not there either.
Horner’s RadioShack Leopard Trek team have reacted immediately to the report. They published an email to prove his communication over the switch of hotels, while insisting the fault rests with the anti-doping body, which reportedly went to the wrong hotel after the veteran switched.
Horner, it is claimed, went through the official channels to change his hotel, and gave the relevant governing bodies ample warning. Stokes quotes Philippe Maertens, RadioShack’s team spokesman:
He didn’t miss a test. The guys from USADA were in the wrong hotel. Chris changed his hotel yesterday as he wanted to stay in the hotel of his wife prior to flying back to the US today.
He filled in the Adams system. He even got a confirmation that his change was approved. Those guys were in the wrong hotel and it is their fault. But they then like to leak it to the media.
The next step in cycling’s latest brush with scandal is to wait for official word from USADA, to confirm the mistake had been made on its own part, rather than that of Horner.
Followers of the sport will collectively hold their breath for the outcome, which threatens to further tarnish cycling’s reputation in the aftermath of Lance Armstrong’s admittance to widespread doping.
Horner, 42 in October, is the miraculous hero the sport—and the US—needs. His achievement in becoming the oldest winner in over 100 years of Grand Tour history was set to restore some faith and romance to the sport’s tainted underbelly.
Maertens claims his man was tested morning and night throughout the closing stages to the race, and appears extremely confident the mix-up is on behalf of USADA.
In the week that the disgraced Armstrong finally handed back his 2000 Olympics bronze medal, Horner appeared to have put a positive light back on US cycling.
Transparency and honesty are the two elements cycling needs to restore as a result of the legacy of Armstrong’s cheating. Horner’s team will seek to prove he is a beacon of those qualities.