Former Olympic champion Sanchez dropped from Vuelta after failed doping test

Former Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez has been dropped from BMC Racing's Vuelta a Espana squad after failing an out-of-competition doping test.

Sanchez had been named as one of three BMC riders capable of challenging for the general classification title at the final Grand Tour of 2017, but their chances will now just rest on Tejay van Garderen and Nicolas Roche.

The 39-year-old, who won Olympic gold in Beijing nine years ago, returned a positive test on August 9 for banned growth hormones, the UCI announced on Thursday.

Sanchez has the right to request analysis of a 'B' sample, but in the meantime BMC have acted swiftly to remove him from their Vuelta squad.

"In accordance with BMC Racing Team's zero-tolerance policy and UCI regulation, Sanchez has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect," a team statement read. 

"Until the results of the 'B' sample are provided, no further action will be taken.

"All riders and staff are held to the highest ethical standard and BMC Racing Team is extremely disappointed to share this news on the eve of the Vuelta a Espana. 

"Loic Vliegen will replace Sanchez at the Vuelta a Espana."

Nimes hosts the opening stage of the 2017 Vuelta - a team time trial - on Saturday.

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