FOIX, France — The French police arrested a Spanish rider for the Barloworld team Wednesday morning after finding banned substances in his hotel room, which they raided after the rider, Moisés Dueñas Nevado, failed an antidoping test during the Tour de France.
The Barloworld team announced on its Web site Wednesday afternoon that the police had found “some banned medicines that were absolutely not supplied or prescribed by the team doctor” in Dueñas Nevado’s hotel room in Tarbes, where the team had spent the previous three nights.
According to a report from the French Anti-Doping Agency, Dueñas Nevado tested positive last week for the blood-boosting drug EPO, which is banned in cycling. The test was conducted after the Tour’s fourth stage, an individual time trial in Cholet, but the results became available only this week.
Dueñas Nevado is the second rider expelled from this year’s Tour de France for a failed drug test. Manuel Beltrán, a Spanish rider, tested positive for EPO after the first stage.
Dueñas Nevado, who did not start the 11th stage Wednesday, was ranked 19th over all after 10 of the Tour’s 21 stages. He was 6 minutes 43 seconds behind the race leader, Cadel Evans, and was the highest-ranked Barloworld rider. On Monday, he finished 11th over all in the difficult climbing stage that finished at Hautacam, just 10 seconds behind Evans, who took over the race lead that day.
Wednesday’s 11th stage, a 104.1-mile ride over one high mountain and into this Pyrenees foothill town, was won by Kurt-Asle Arvesen, the Norwegian national road champion who rides for the CSC team.
Arvesen beat Martin Elmiger of Ag2R-La Mondiale and Alessandro Ballen of Lampre in a photo finish. They were all part of a breakaway group of 12 riders that finished more than 14 minutes ahead of the peloton. Because all of the breakaway riders were more than 20 minutes down in the standings at the beginning of the day, there was no change at the top of the overall standings.
Evans, an Australian on the Silence-Lotto team, remained in first place by a second over Frank Schleck of CSC and 46 seconds ahead of Christian Vande Velde of Garmin Chipotle.
Claudio Corti, the manager of the Barloworld team, said in a statement that the team was unaware of any drug use by Dueñas Nevado before Wednesday.
“We’re absolutely stunned by what is happening and by the behavior of one of our riders,” Corti said. “He seems to have secretly used banned substances, hiding everything from everybody else in the team.”
Corti added, “It’s terribly disheartening, but because the team is not involved in what has happened, we hope that the whole truth can rapidly emerge so that we can take the necessary action and that Dueñas can fully accept responsibility for what he has done.”
The search and detention of Dueñas Nevado is the same procedure applied last week to Beltrán, of the Liquigas team. The antidoping effort at the Tour de France this year is being conducted by the French Anti-Doping Agency instead of the International Cycling Union because of a dispute between the cycling union and the organizers of the Tour de France.
The French police have been cooperating in that effort in an attempt to heighten the perceived penalties for cheating. If Dueñas Nevado possessed or took banned performance-enhancing drugs without a prescription while in France, he might have violated French law. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted of a sports doping offense under French law.
Dueñas Nevado was withdrawn from Wednesday’s race by his team under the terms of a contract that all of the teams signed with the Tour de France. The contract specifies that a team can continue in the race if one of its riders tests positive as long as the team is not involved and it immediately withdraws the rider, without waiting for the results of the test of a second sample of the rider’s urine.
Dueñas Nevado has the right to request the testing of his second sample and to be present during the test. If he declines or if the second test proves positive, he can be suspended for two years and fined a year’s salary, which for a rider like him can total up to about $100,000.
Two other riders on the Barloworld team dropped out of the Tour on Wednesday after a crash that sent one of them to the hospital. Paolo Longo Borghini, an Italian rider, fractured his right clavicle in a crash roughly 35 miles after the start. The crash also brought down his teammate Félix Cárdenas, who sustained contusions to his left knee.
The team’s leader, Juan Mauricio Soler Hernández, crashed heavily during the first stage and dropped out during the fifth stage. That leaves Barloworld, whose sponsor is a South African conglomerate that leases heavy equipment for construction projects, with just five riders in the race.
Christopher Froome, a teammate of Dueñas Nevado’s on the Barloworld team, said shortly before the start of Wednesday’s stage in Lannemezan that team members had not been able to speak with him since about two dozen policemen came to the hotel at about 8 a.m.
“Obviously everyone was really shocked about it,” Froome said. “It’s disappointing obviously, but they still have to test the B sample, and personally I just hope it’s a big mistake. We’ll just have to wait and see. If it’s not, then I’m just really disappointed. That’s just obviously his own choice and it’s affected all of us, unfortunately.”