Spanish rider, Manuel Beltran of Team Liquigas has tested positive for EPO. The A sample from a test conducted on 5 July after the first stage of the Tour de France contained traces of EPO, according to l' Agence Française de lutte contre le dopage, the AFLD. The 37 year old, who has been professional since 1995, was among those targetted for additional testing after screening tests carried out on 3-4 July prior to the Tour.
In the early evening Friday, French police descended on the Team Liquigas hotel. It is unclear whether the police found anything in the hotel, but Manuel Beltran was taken for questioning by the gendarmes, who represent a special anti-doping unit. Beltran will not take the start for tomorrow's stage.
Preliminary reports suggested that the team would fire the Spanish rider immediately, but Team Liquigas has now said that they will await the analysis of the B-sample before deciding the future of the rider. For now, the team has suspended Beltran fro competition. Liquigas also confirmed that they will continue to ride the Tour de France, as the contract the teams signed with the ASO does not require that they withdraw.
Manuel Beltan began his career at Mapei, and subsequently rode for Banesto, Ullrich's Team Coast, and Armstrong's Postal/Discovery. He has predominantly ridden as gregario and counts only a few victories in the shorter Spanish stage races among his results.
Source, Original Story, 10.12 am, PST: l'equipe.fr, Damien Ressiot.
Update, 07.12.2009, 8.34 am, PST: Today's press reports that French authorities have released Manuel Beltran from custody, after questioning him for two hours. The search of his hotel room also found nothing incriminating. A preliminary inquiry has been opened on the case by judicial authorities.