In a press release issued by EF Pro Cycling Monday morning, the team revealed that new signing Luis Villalobos has tested positive for a growth hormone releasing peptite.
At 21 years old, Luis Villalobos is the reigning Mexican national time trial champion. Villalobos raced for the American continental team Aevolo Cycling prior to signing with EF Pro Cycling in August of 2019.
EF Pro Cycling Press Release
The team was notified Monday, May 18, 2020 of a potential anti-doping rule violation committed by Luis Villalobos in 2019 while riding for the Aevolo team. Villalobos is suspended from the team indefinitely.
According to a letter sent from the UCI, the sample was taken out of competition on April 25, 2019 in Lago de Moreno, Mexico, and indicated the presence of GHRP-6 in the rider’s A sample. GHRP-6 is a growth-hormone releasing peptide. Villalobos joined the team on Aug. 1, 2019.
“This team was set up to protect the health and the rights of riders across the sport, particularly the younger riders as they entered the professional level. It’s hugely upsetting for us when these young riders fall under the guidance of amateur doctors and trainers who ultimately ruin their careers,” EF Education First CEO Jonathan Vaughters said Monday, upon learning of the situation.
The team is profoundly disappointed to learn of the potential violation more than a year after the sample was taken and is exploring its legal rights with regard to the extremely delayed notification. Only World Anti-Doping Agency accredited labs are able to test for GHRP-6, and teams are not allowed to use those labs in the internal screening processes of athletes due to potential conflicts of interest.
“If we’d have known, we would not have signed Luis,” Vaughters said. “The burden of this is on the UCI because there is no internal testing program that has access to the level of equipment needed to screen for GHRP-6.”
As noted by the UCI, Villalobos, 21, now has the right to request the opening and analysis of the B sample, which was collected at the same time as his A sample.
“Everyone deserves better. Luis deserved better guidance and mentoring from his past trainers and doctors. And the team deserved better from the UCI than to learn of this situation more than a year after the fact,” Vaughters said. “While it’s encouraging that the system is catching riders, it has to be more transparent and accountable than this. We are going to encourage Luis to not fight this and to tell the truth, whatever that may be.”