Cycling

Russian cyclist Novikov tests positive for doping

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AIGLE, Switzerland (AP)

Russian rider Nikita Novikov was provisionally suspended on Friday by the International Cycling Union after testing positive for doping.

Novikov tested positive for ostarine in an out-of-competition test on May 17. Ostarine potentially helps increase muscle mass and is classed among substances known as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMS).

It's the fourth doping case announced by the UCI within the last month despite hopes that a new generation was riding clean in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong affair.

The governing body said Novikov is suspended while the Russian cycling federation prosecutes a disciplinary case.

Novikov's team, Vacansoleil, said he will be fired if the backup sample also tests positive, or if the 23-year-old rider refuses to ask for the second test.

''It needs no clarification that as a team we are devastated by this,'' Vacansoleil manager Daan Luijkx said in a statement. ''When I talked to the rider last night, after the UCI informed us, he said he had no idea how the substance got in his body.''

Novikov won the Tour of Slovakia and Tour des Pays de Savoie in 2011 with Russian team Katusha before joining Vacansoleil before the 2012 season.

''Since that time he didn't manage to reach his old level in our environment despite all the efforts of our team,'' Luijkx said.

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