There will be more than 200 doping tests carried out at the Tour Down Under, and riders may even be tested multiple times on one day. Each rider must provide a blood sample before the race starts, and blood and urine tests will be conducted throughout the race.
"Every athlete competing at the Tour Down Under will be tested," said Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis to the AP press agency. "We are implementing world-best practice to protect the integrity of Australia's premier cycling event."
The various samples will be tested for EPO and its new variant, CERA, as well as for human growth hormones. In addition, some samples will be frozen and stored for up to eight years, to be thawed and re-examined if and when new test procedures become available.
Michael Rogers of Team Columbia said that he has already been tested three times within 24 hours, twice by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and once by his team. "It's been quite a busy 24 hours for me," Rogers said. "[But] it's for the benefit of the sport and if that's what I have to do to have a level playing field, then that's what I've got to do—and that makes me happy."
According to ASADA chairman Richard Ings said there was a good reason to test riders more than once on a given day. There was a tendency in the past, he noted, for athletes to believe that if they were tested once on a particular day that anti-doping officials would not test again for several days.
"The fact that there may be a follow-up test later that day or early the next morning is really an indication that athletes can and will be tested anytime, anywhere," Ings said.(SW)