By Susan Westemeyer
Team CSC-Saxo Bank is expanding its anti-doping programme to include testing for CERA, the new EPO. Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, who runs the programme, told Cyclingnews that he has already started gathering the team's frozen blood (serum) to send to the anti-doping lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, for CERA analysis.
Although CERA shows up in traditional EPO urine tests, Damsgaard says blood testing is another safeguard against the drug's use on the team. "Since March 1st, I have received the screening results from the EPO urine tests and CERA has not been present," he said. "However, in addition to the EPO urine samples we have serum samples collected at the same time, as well as at times when no urine was collected."
Damsgaard continued, "By having the serum samples analysed I get two more important pieces of information: 1. Confirming that the EPO urine samples gave me the correct impression of being a valid CERA screening analyses (if the serum samples are positive, that is); and 2. Adding more results to the program at times when urine was not collected."
The French anti-doping agency has recently begun testing samples from the Tour de France for CERA. Leonardo Piepoli of then-Team Saunier Duval and Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner have tested positive, and one or more CSC-Saxo Bank riders are rumoured to be on the list of those whose samples are being tested.
Read The man with the plan for more information.