Cycling: Former Vuelta champion Cobo banned for doping violation

Cycling's world governing body has imposed a three-year suspension on the now retired 38-year-old Juan Jose Cobo, with Spanish media reporting that he could also be stripped of his 2011 Vuelta a Espana title.

Juan Jose Cobo finished second behind Leonardo Piepoli, his teammate from Saunier Duval, during stage 10 of the 2008 Tour de France (file photo).   -  Getty Images

Spain's Juan Jose Cobo has been found guilty of an anti-doping rule violation based on "abnormalities" in his biological passport between 2009 and 2011, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Thursday.

Cycling's world governing body has imposed a three-year suspension on the now retired 38-year-old, with Spanish media reporting that he could also be stripped of his 2011 Vuelta a Espana title.

That would mean Briton Chris Froome, who finished second ahead of Bradley Wiggins in the race, could be awarded the victory for his seventh Grand Tour crown.

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"The anti-doping tribunal found (Cobo) guilty of an anti-doping rule violation based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his biological passport and imposed a three-year period of ineligibility on the rider," UCI said in a statement.

"In accordance with the procedural rules of the anti-doping tribunal, the decision will be published on the UCI website in due course."

A biological passport is an electronic record where results of all doping tests by a rider over a period of time are collated and compared.

The UCI said that Cobo had used a prohibited substance but did not state what it was.

Cobo can appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport within a month.

Froome is currently in intensive care in France following surgery after a crash at the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday that ruled him out of next month's Tour de France.