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Special Edition Tour de France News, July 18, 2008

Date published:
July 18, 2008, 1:00 BST
  • Are anti-doping authorities "winning the game"?

    Article published:
    July 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Laura Weislo In the hours after the news of Riccardo Riccò's failed doping control, ASO president...

    By Laura Weislo

    In the hours after the news of Riccardo Riccò's failed doping control, ASO president Patrice Clerc declared that this news, and the positive tests of Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas serve as proof that the anti-doping authorities are beginning to "win the game". Yet the number of doping cases has nearly equalled that of last year's Tour - how is the game being won?

    After last year's Tour fiasco, where the leader of the race, Michael Rasmussen, was removed for lying to anti-doping authorities about his whereabouts prior to the Tour, and prominent riders Alexandre Vinokourov and his team-mate Andrey Kashechkin were declared positive for blood transfusions, the riders must have been prepared for stricter doping tests.

    Several teams, Team Columbia, CSC-Saxo Bank and Garmin-Chipotle have instituted strict anti-doping programs in addition to the normal testing, and the UCI has stepped up its game by instituting the so-called biological passport. Both the team programs and the UCI's passport use a process known as 'longitudinal testing' to look at a rider's blood values over time. In this way, the tests can detect the effects of doping, rather than having to rely on testing for specific drugs.

    Using this method, it was thought that the testers could stay ahead of the cheats by being able to detect doping by looking for fluctuations in a rider's haematocrit, or the volume of red blood cells in a rider's blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, something that is very important for a cyclist.

    EPO, or Erythropoietin, is a natural protein hormone which...

  • Duenas carried "a small pharmacy"

    Moises Dueñas Nevado (Barloworld)
    Article published:
    July 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Barloworld rider Moises Duenas, who was removed from the Tour de France after he failed a doping...

    Barloworld rider Moises Duenas, who was removed from the Tour de France after he failed a doping control for EPO, was found to have not just some doping products, but a "small pharmacy" in his room, AFP reported Thursday. Duenas appeared before a French court in Tarbes Thursday to face criminal charges for "use and possession of plants and poisonous substances".

    Prosecutor Gerard Aldige described the items uncovered in the rider's belongings, "In the cupboard and among the rider's personal belongings gendarmes found many things including medical material," adding that "syringes, needles and blood bags" as well as "a multitude of other products .. in liquid and sachet form" were seized.

    Duenas could face up to two years in prison and a 3,750 euro fine, and because one of the drugs found was not authorized for import into France, he could get an additional three years for illegally bringing it into the country.

    Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti, speaking before the start of the 12th stage in Lavelanet on Thursday, denied all knowledge of the discovery and said he had yet to speak to Duenas.

    While the Saunier Duval-Scott team withdrew its entire team from the race after Riccardo Riccò failed a doping control, the Barloworld manager Claudio Corti insisted that his team will remain in the race. The squad is down to just four riders after the injuries of Mauricio Soler, Felix Cardenas, Paolo Longho Borghini, and the abandon of Baden Cooke on Thursday's stage.

    "If he (Duenas) is the only one implicated then why should the whole team pay for it? We are cooperating and trying to deal with this together," Corti said. "If it turns out that Duenas has been doing all of this behind our backs, then we will start proceedings against him."

  • Saunier Duval-Scott stops racing, Riccò in custody

    The Saunier Duval team did not start stage 12.
    Article published:
    July 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Following the announcement that its rider Riccardo Riccò had failed a doping control, Saunier...

    Following the announcement that its rider Riccardo Riccò had failed a doping control, Saunier Duval-Scott withdrew from the Tour de France and has voluntarily suspended itself from competition, the team announced Thursday. The team was informed "an hour before the start" of stage 12 by the French anti-doping agency AFLD that Riccò had failed a test conducted after the stage four individual time trial.

    A statement from the team said, "Although the Tour organisers allow teams to continue to participate after a positive test, given Riccò's important role to the team in the race, Saunier Duval-Scott have decided to withdraw in order to preserve the positive image of the team's sponsors and the Tour de France itself."

    The team also suspended Riccò pending the counter-analysis of his B sample, and ceased all competition, not just its participation in the Tour, "until this unfortunate incident is clarified."

    The team had not originally scheduled the young Italian to compete in the Tour de France, but Riccò was brought in as a late addition at the rider's request. The team's directeur sportif Pietro Algeri expressed his disappointment. "Mauro Gianetti and I did all of this work to be here, and now this happens," he told Cyclingnews. "It is a catastrophe."

    Meanwhile, Riccò remains in the custody of French police at Mirepoix, around 20 kilometres north of Lavelanet where he was initially arrested on Thursday morning. According to l'Equipe, the Italian was questioned around 13.00 local time and is expected to spend Thursday night behind bars.

  • WADA ahead of the curve with Mircera

    Article published:
    July 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    By Laura Weislo The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has been working with drug makers to develop new...

    By Laura Weislo

    The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has been working with drug makers to develop new tests for potential performance enhancing drugs before they can make their way into the peloton, the agency spokesman told Cyclingnews Thursday.

    That fact became clear when news broke that Riccardo Riccò had failed a doping control at the Tour, and it was revealed that the drug which was found in his system was a third-generation EPO with the trade name Mircera. The drug, also known generically as CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator), was only approved for sale in the United States last year (although patent disputes are blocking its distribution), and was made available in Europe at the start of 2008.

    CERA is the latest form of EPO, and is similar to the previous drugs, except that it is connected to a chemical called polyethylene glycol (PEG), which makes it last longer in the body. The drug was rumoured to be blocked from the kidneys due to its size and therefore undetectable by urine-based doping controls.

    WADA's spokesman, Frédéric Donzé, said that the news of Riccò's positive test "is a further indication that the net is closing on those athletes who still take the risk to dope".

    Donzé revealed that the agency had worked with the drug's manufacturer, Roche Pharmaceuticals, to learn of new potentially performance enhancing agents and to develop tests for them before they can enter the market and be used by athletes.

    "This case shows the significant work that WADA conducts in anticipating doping trends, including by closely cooperating with pharmaceutical companies at very early stages of the development of molecules or substances for therapeutic purposes to develop detection methods for anti-doping purposes.

    "WADA is very much aware of the development of new EPOs and bio-similar EPOs in an expanding market," he said. "A number of...

  • Millar: 'Riccò was too good to be true'

    Riccò - too good to be true?
    Article published:
    July 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Narbonne

    By Gregor Brown in Narbonne David Millar has said his former team-mate Riccardo Riccò was "too good...

    By Gregor Brown in Narbonne

    David Millar has said his former team-mate Riccardo Riccò was "too good to be true" following the surprise announcement Thursday morning that Riccò had been kicked out of the Tour de France for failing a drugs test for Erythropoietin (EPO).

    "It is bullshit... I think it's unfortunate that when things look too good to be true, generally they are too good to be true - and he did look pretty f***ing good," Millar told Cyclingnews. "It is just amazing that he is that irresponsible and doesn't have any love or care for the sport."

    Millar himself returned to racing after serving a ban for EPO use, but since his return in 2006 the Scot has been an outspoken advocate for clean cycling. He raced for two years in the same team as Riccò, Saunier Duval, before switching to Garmin-Chipotle at the beginning of 2008.

    "Maybe there is someone behind Riccò who has told him he won't go positive," added Millar. "We need to find out who is behind this, where is he getting his stuff from and who the f*** has told him he can get through controls. It is just bullshit."

    At last year's Tour, the news of Alexandre Vinokourov's dismissal affected Millar in a similar way. He believes the sport will change, but it will take time.

    "It is not going to happen overnight, this is going to take years. There will be a positive next year - no doubt - and the year after. The bottom line is that teams like ours are changing it. One day there will be 20 teams here with the attitude we have. At the moment, we only have three teams that are really like us - Columbia and CSC - that is not enough, every other team needs to be doing what we are doing."

    Millar's Garmin-Chipotle team, Columbia and CSC-Saxo Bank use independent internal testing...