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Heras legal appeal stops Tour of Spain awards ceremony
The Spaniard was stripped of his title and banned for two years after testing positive for the banned blood-boosting substance erythropoietin (EPO) in the penultimate stage of last year's Tour when he was on his way to a record fourth triumph in the three-week race.

EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells, increasing oxygen-carrying capacity and therefore improving endurance.

Heras, a former US Postal team mate of seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, has protested his innocence, arguing first that there must have been a laboratory mix-up and then that the testing process for EPO was flawed.

Following Heras's disqualification, victory in the race was due to be handed to Russian Denis Menchov, with Spanish duo Carlos Sastre and Francisco Mancebo completing the podium.

But organizers say that the proposed presentation ceremony has been shelved because of possible legal problems if Heras wins his appeal against the sanction.

"We have received notice that Roberto Heras has begun legal action against the resolution of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) after his positive test in the 20th stage of the 2005 Tour of Spain," organizers Unipublic said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Although the rider has been sanctioned as expected, Unipublic has decided to call off the ceremony scheduled for March 23 in order to safeguard itself against the possible consequences of legal action.

"We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to the riders Menchov, Sastre and Mancebo, to their teams and their sponsors."

The 32-year-old Heras has taken out the legal action in a court in the Spanish city of Valladolid.

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