40 positives in 1998 Tour

In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung , Jacques de Ceaurriz, director of the...

In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Jacques de Ceaurriz, director of the French Laboratoire national de dépistage du dopage de Châtenay-Malabry (LNDD), where the anonymous retrospective testing of pre-2000 Tour de France urine samples took place, revealed that 40 of 70 tested samples of the 1998 Tour showed evidence of EPO. "Seventy samples were analysed, and forty turned out positive - but be careful; that doesn't mean that there were forty different riders who doped," he said. Each day at the 'Grande Boucle', the stage winner, the leader of general classification as well as several other riders drawn at random are tested by the UCI Anti-doping commissaires.

The retrospective tests of the 1998 Tour de France, as well as those of the 1999 edition, were demanded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), explained De Ceaurriz. "They wanted to know if the athletes had changed their ways of doping in recent years," he said. "WADA was under the impression that the riders took greater doses of doping products during their training periods and only refreshed them at the races. We had to find out if we could identify those smaller doses taken during racing by means of our test. The question behind all of this is: Shouldn't the limits according to which we consider an athlete doped be reviewed and decreased?"

When the urinary EPO test was first developed by the LNDD in 2000, urine samples from the 1998 Tour de France were used, as it was believed they were likely to contain EPO. The LNDD reported that 14 of the 102 samples tested gave a clear indication that there was exogenous recombinant EPO present, while another 14 were suspiciously high. This time the laboratory tested only 70 samples from the '98 Tour, and established the presence of EPO in 40 cases, indicating that the method has been made more sensitive.

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