"Endurance in a pill", new blood booster two candidates
For the first time in years, the Tour de France ended without a single rider testing positive during the race. While all the results may not be in, there is cautious hope that the peloton is finally cleaning itself up after years of doping scandals. But the French Anti-doping Agency president Pierre Bordry is not convinced.
Bordry suspects that the riders are still engaging in autologous blood transfusions, he told Le Monde. The AFLD head also said he is "convinced that two new products have been used during the Tour, two drugs that are not yet on the market."
The first, Hematide, works on the same biochemical pathway that erythropoeitin (EPO) does, but is a different molecule. It would, therefore, likely defeat the traditional test for EPO. The drug, made by Affymax, is still in phase three clinical trials.
The second drug that Bordry suspects is AICAR (aminoimidazole carboxamide ribonucleotide), or the so-called "exercise in a pill" which made news in 2008. Scientists discovered that in mice, the drug can boost endurance in the absence of actual training. The drug was found to convert fast-twitch muscle fibers to the more efficient slow-twitch fibers that benefit endurance athletes.
Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that scientists had developed detection protocols for the substance and turned them over to the World Anti-doping Agency, but WADA has a policy of not commenting on when doping tests have been implemented.
Bordry also noted to Le Monde that his agency discovered drug products in the trash from several teams. "We found several strong medications, including a substance which produces insulin and usually is used for diabetes."