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Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich and Bobby Julich on the podium at the end of the 1998 Tour de France.
Commission expected to name riders caught for EPO in retroactive testing
Despite numerous requests opposing the decision, most lately from the International Professional riders association (CPA), the French Senate is expected to reveal the names of the riders who's urine samples from the 1998 Tour de France were found to contain traces of EPO as part of a detailed report into the effectiveness in the fight against doping.
The results and the report was initially expected to be published on July 18, the day of the Tour de France stage to Alpe d'Huez but was delayed until Wednesday after riders held talks with French sports minister Valérie Fourneyron.
The French Senate has interviewed a series of key people in cycling and other sports including UCI President Pat McQuaid and former rider and French national coach Laurent Jalabert.
French newspaper L'Equipe reported before the Tour de France that Jalabert was one of the riders whose urine had contained traces of EPO during retroactive testing done the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD in 2004. He was vague about doping during his career when he gave evidence to the Senate and was forced to give up several lucrative media contracts due to the L'Equipe report.
According to French media, 44 of 60 urine samples that were retroactively tested contained traces of EPO. In 1998 there was no test for the banned blood-boosting drug. The late Marco Pantani won the 1998 Tour de France ahead of Germany's Jan Ullrich and Bobby Julich of the USA.It was also the year of the Festina Affaire, when the team's soigneur was caught with a car full of doping products and the whole team was forced to leave the race.
The results of the tests cannot be used for disciplinary action because they were not done following an anti-doping protocol. However the publication of the names would highlight the widespread abuse of EPO during the nineties.
The Senate report is expected to include several ideas that can improve the effectiveness of anti-doping control in cycling and sport but these will be overshadowed by the names from the 1998 Tour de France.