Patrik Sinkewitz tests positive for HGH

AIGLE, Switzerland -- German rider Patrik Sinkewitz was suspended Friday after becoming the first cyclist to test positive for human growth hormone.

World governing body UCI said Sinkewitz tested positive for HGH at the Grand Prix di Lugano on Feb. 27. He could face a lifetime ban because he already has served a one-year doping suspension. He is provisionally suspended pending a hearing by the German cycling federation.

Sinkewitz's blood sample was analyzed at the World Anti-Doping Agency's accredited lab in Lausanne. He can ask for his backup "B" sample to be tested.

"This is the first suspension delivered in cycling on the basis of a test for the detection of the growth hormone and one of the first cases in all sports combined," the UCI said in a statement. "This adverse analytical finding is therefore a new and important step in cycling's fight against doping."

Terry Newton, a former British international rugby league player, was the first athlete suspended for a positive HGH test last year. He admitted taking the substance and was banned for two years. Newton died in September at age 31, found hanged at his home in a suspected suicide.

Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition test before the 2007 Tour de France and was fired by his T-Mobile Team. He was banned for one year, half the usual suspension because he cooperated with German investigators and shared details about doping in cycling.

"To protect clean riders, people like Sinkewitz have to be kicked out [of the sport]," German cycling union president Rudolf Scharping said.

The rider's Italian team, Farnese Vini, said it was "not responsible" for the positive test and was prepared to fire Sinkewitz if he is found guilty of doping.

"The team has always pursued a strict anti-doping policy and has always been dedicated to clean competition and monitoring and prosecution of the rules," the team said in a statement.

"We will wait to decide on our response and remain ready to fire the rider should the positive test be confirmed. The team also stresses the need to provide for harsher penalties, especially when the case involves serious doping, as this one does."

Last year at the Tour of Luxembourg, Sinkewitz said he had learned from his mistakes.

"I'm convinced the International Cycling Union is doing more than any other sport in the fight against doping," he said at the time. "The UCI is always making the first step and the other sports then follow."