Ezequiel Mosquera was supposed to be Vacansoleil’s second star signing but the only reason for the Dutch team to be happy is that he hasn’t brought as much bad publicity as Riccardo Riccò. He was suspended after tests showed both he and then team mate David Garcia Da Peña had tested positive for hydroxyethyl starch (HES) in the Vuelta a España. Garcia also tested positive for EPO and was subsequently banned.
Mosquera on the other hand remained suspended. HES is only a banned substance when injected intravenously as it can be used as a masking agent, specifically because it inhibits the excretion of banned substances, or put simply it keeps EPO out of your urine. Outside of doping it is more commonly used “blood volume expander”, often for patients suffering big blood loss, and its use could also fall under the “prohibited method” of blood doping. But the authorities are faced with having to prove either the intravenous use or the manipulation of blood.
Suspended for a while, the UCI later clarified that he actually wasn’t suspended any more. Yet Mosquera hasn’t pushed hard to return and his new team have asked him not to race, presumably to avoid any more bad headlines after Riccò.
To summarise he says he’s been tested many times and only HES appeared, that the WADA-accredited eagle-eyed lab in Cologne that caused Contador sleepless nights didn’t pick-up any EPO. He says “scientific studies show that Hydroxyethyl starch doesn’t allow to improve the sportive performance” and that “Hydroxyethyl starch isn’t forbidden in case of intramuscularly or oral intake“. He also contests the WADA assertion that HES is a masking agent.
More questions than answers
A tiny point is that for all his points, he makes no denial when it comes to EPO use, simply the claim that it wasn’t present in his samples – but some claim that’s the whole point of using HES, to block the EPO from reaching the urine. Perhaps he feels he doesn’t need to deny EPO use but that would have been nice to read.
But the biggest gap is any explanation of how the HES appeared. For all the talk about this subject – he even touches on its chemistry – Mosquera implicitly admits the HES was there. He then says that it didn’t aid performance and that intramuscular or oral use is ok. So was he injecting it or drinking it? And why? Thirsty, did he just reach for for a cold pouch of Hespan at the back of the fridge?
His team collapsed amidst allegations of doping. Mosquera’s own team mate gets caught for a cocktail HES and EPO. You’d think there’s plenty to account for. But since the type of HES use can’t be proven, it looks like Mosquera is going to rejoin the bunch.
But until he explains just how the HES got there – and perhaps who suggested using it, who administered it and more – then people are going keep asking him whether he’s simply slipped through the anti-doping net.