Li Fuyu, China's most prominent professional road bicycle racer and a teammate of Lance Armstrong on team Team RadioShack, has been confirmed as testing positive for drugs, one of China's top cycling officials said.
Li's A-sample tested positive for the anabolic agent clenbuterol in a pre-competition test on March 23 in the Dwars Door Vlaanderen in Belgium and his B-sample also came back positive.
Zhang Bin, the secretary-general of the Chinese Cycling Association, told China Daily on Friday that Li denied the charges during a recent hearing, after the B-sample result, but the ban remains in effect.
"Now there is no doubt of him being not positive for doping. No matter what his excuse was, and no matter how prominent he is in China cycling, the result has been confirmed and it is impossible to change," Zhang said.
"We were surprised when we heard of the news in April but we will obey the results and follow all the legal procedures," he said.
China will send its decision to the International Cycling Union (UCI) soon and it is expected to be announced this month.
While Zhang refused to reveal the possible penalty, Li will probably face a two-year ban, according to current China policy.
The 32-year-old Li first became Armstrong's teammate in 2007 when he joined the Discovery Channel team and rode with the seven-time Tour de France winner early this season in the newly-formed Team RadioShack, under team manager Johan Bruyneel.
Li has been suspended by Team RadioShack and is likely to be removed from the squad when the official result is announced by the UCI, according to a team statement on its website.
Zhang said doping was a serious problem in the world of cycling and China's anti-doping agency is very concerned about it.
"Apparently, cycling is one of the worst-hit areas worldwide in terms of doping and fighting against it has been one of our major tasks." Zhang said. "Of all the athletes in China, cyclists have been among the most frequently tested by the anti-doping agency. Leading cyclists are tested more than 10 times each year."