Spain's Supreme Court upheld on Friday the overturning of the doping disqualification that cost cyclist Roberto Heras his victory in the 2005 Vuelta a España.
"I never stopped feeling I was the winner of the Vuelta and I have a great memory of that triumph because I experienced it with great emotion, and nobody has been able to take that away from me," Heras, 38, told Efe after learning of the verdict.
Now retired, the cyclist won the Vuelta de España on three other occasions.
Heras saw his 2005 title revoked after a sample taken from him on the second-to-last day of the race tested positive for the banned substance EPO.
Accusing the testers of mishandling the sample and of violating their own protocols, the cyclist decided to bypass the Court of Arbitration for Sport - the usual venue for these cases - and seek justice in the Spanish civil courts.
An administrative court ruled in Heras' favor in June 2011, but the decision was challenged by the Spanish Cycling Federation and the public prosecutor's office.
The Supreme Court, after considering the legal challenge, confirmed the finding of the lower court.
"It's a very important decision for me," Heras said. "And I'm very happy because I recover the 2005 Vuelta. I'm going to celebrate with my family and my friends." EFE