Ezequiel Mosquera is a Spanish cyclist who finished second in the 2010 Vuelta a España. A climber, he took the stage win on the Bola del Mundo climb and he made the move from the modest Xacobeo squad to the big Vacansoleil squad. Certainly that’s how he’d like to be known.
But things have turned out differently. Mosquera was, like Riccardo Riccò, hired by Vacansoleil in part because of his giant points haul, the Dutch team was busy trying to secure a UCI ProTeam licence. But disaster struck and Mosquera was suspended after anti-doping controls showed both he and then team mate David Garcia Da Peña had tested positive for hydroxyethyl starch (HES) in the Vuelta. 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. Here it can be used as a masking agent, specifically because it inhibits the excretion of banned substances. Put simply it keeps EPO out of your urine, it allows a doping athlete to foil the urine test for EPO.
Beyond cheating, HES 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 have been faced with having to prove either the intravenous use of HES or the manipulation of blood.
Mosquera has stated in a press release that 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“. For all the talk about this subject – he even touches on its chemistry in the press release – Mosquera implicitly admits the HES was there but there’s no explanation of how it got there.
Now the rider could go to the Vuelta. He has been suspended by his team all year pending the unresolved case. But it seems the case could be closed given there’s no satisfactory resolution.
The rider might be on standby and waiting for the case to be dropped but nobody is any closer to the truth. It feels like all sides – the rider, the team, the Spanish anti-doping authorities – are planning to drop the matter. Mosquera still has plenty to explain.