Colombian rider Nairo Quintana has denied any use of the drug tramadol after he was disqualified from the Tour de France by the world cyling governing body (UCI) on Wednesday, for infringing an in-competition ban of the substance.
Team Arkea-Samsic rider Quintana finished sixth in the general classification in last month's Tour but analysis of two dried blood samples revealed the presence of tramadol and its two main metabolites.
"In accordance with the UCI Medical Rules, the rider is disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France. This decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within the next 10 days," the UCI said in a statement.
"As this is a first offence, Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas is not declared ineligible and can therefore participate in competitions."
Using tramadol is an offence only under the UCI Medical Rules due to the side-effects of the substance which include dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention. They do not constitute Anti-Doping Rule Violations.
In a statement released on twitter on Wednesday, Quintana denied use of the drug.
I am totally unaware of the use of this substance, and I deny having used it in my career," he said.
"With my team of lawyers, we are exhausting all the processes for my defence."
Quintana had said after the announcement about the infringement that he intended to participate in the Vuelta a España which begins Friday, but later released a video on Instagram in which he reversed his decision despite still being allowed to race.
"A few hours have gone by and I've been able to reflect during the night and, for now, neither my head nor my body are in the right place to race competitively," said Quintana, who will fight his case at CAS.
"Though I said yesterday I'd do the Vuelta, I'm still not in the right condition and I prefer to return home and organise and prepare my defence," Quintana said.
"I will be working during these 10 days to show I have no problem and we'll meet again in forthcoming competitions."
Quintana finished second overall in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, winning the mountain and young rider classifications respectively, and has won three individual stages of the Tour in 2013, 2018 and 2019.
He won the Giro D'Italia in 2014 and the Vuelta a España in 2016.