STA, 14 January 2019 - Slovenian cyclist Janez Brajkovič announced on his blog on Monday that his sample taken during last year's Tour of Croatia had tested positive for a banned substance, earning him a ten-month suspension from the International Cycling Union (UCI).
The 35-year-old from Metlika handed over the sample, which tested positive for methylhexanamine, on 18 April 2018 as part of the main men's cycling stage race in Croatia, which is a part of the UCI Europe Tour.
The sample reportedly contained an extremely low level of the stimulant and energy-boosting drug, which the member of the Slovenian professional cycling team Adria Mobil believes is connected to his use of food supplements.
The Slovenian did not appeal the test results, while attributing the failed test to one of the food supplements he consumed being contaminated with the drug.
Admitting that the substance is banned in professional cycling, Brajkovič said it was a "small quantity, because as far as I know the concentration was 20 to 40 times lower compared to samples of other athletes," he said on the blog.
"I could fight this and bring the case to the anti-doping court, where it would be reviewed right from the beginning. But to be honest with you, I neither have the will nor the money to challenge this, which is why I have accepted the penalty."
In addition to being the world under-23 time trial champion in 2004, Brajkovič's biggest achievements include wins at the Criterium du Dauphine (2010), the Tour de Georgia (2007) and the Tour of Slovenia (2012).
He was ninth at the Tour de France in 2012 as a member of Astana Pro Team, which was the best ranking for a Slovenian until Primož Roglič finished forth last year.
Brajkovič, who was also a member of the professional teams Bahrain Merida, RadioSchack and Discovery Channel, said that testing positive for doping was not actually the worst thing that had happened to him in his career.
"I was a victim of mobbing and an outcast in a team because I did not want to expose myself to the deadly consequences of doping.
"During the Tour de France, a team mate even started strangling me because of this. After I signed the contract, they said I was nobody and valueless and that they will make sure I never race again."
Adria Mobil, which Brajkovič represented at the Tour of Croatia, said it had been informed about the positive test last July, but added that it did not need to suspend the cyclist under the anti-doping rules.
"Considering the quantity and type [of the substance], there was no direct and immediate suspension of the cyclist. Under an agreement with the competitor and the UCI and under the team policy on doping, Brajkovič has not competed since last July," the team said in a press release.
"The competitor has been cooperating with the UCI all the time in proving the origin of the banned substance found in his sample," it added.
Adria Mobil, which did not extend its contract with Brajkovič, noted that the cyclist had proven the failed test was a consequence of his carelessness. He purchased the food supplement on-line, and the label did not say that it contained the banned substance.
The usual penalty for such violations is a 24-month ban, but the UCI has reduced it to ten months due to these circumstances, the team said, adding that only the result from the Tour of Slovenia would be deleted from his record.