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Amgen Tour of California tightens anti-doping measures

AEG president Andrew Messick

AEG president Andrew Messick
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/

Riders taking part in this year's Amgen Tour of California will be subjected to additional doping controls and monitoring as a part of a stepped-up initiative to ensure the race is clean, organizer AEG announced today.

The tests will include new analyses for human growth hormone (hGH), the blood boosting drug CERA as well as advanced techniques for detecting the use of man-made testosterone (CIR). Additionally, samples taken as part of the program will be held for up to eight years so that samples can be re-evaluated as new tests are developed.

Both blood and urine will be collected before the start of the race and during competition and screened for the usual battery of substances banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list: steroids, masking agents, stimulants, blood manipulations and hormones.

"We wanted to make sure that we were doing everything possible to give us great comfort that the Amgen Tour of California is as clean as it can be," said AEG president Andrew Messick. "We partnered with USADA to provide a deterrent to doping both during the race and in the lead-up to it."

In addition to the riders' bodily fluids, USA Cycling and the UCI will be examining the rosters provided by teams to ensure that all riders, coaches, trainers and staff are clear of "any pending doping investigations at the time of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California".

Domestic teams will be getting extra scrutiny to bring them on par with the ProTour teams. The Continental squads are not required to be a part of the bio-passport program, but the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) has already begun conducting out-of-competition testing, and will continue in the weeks leading up to the race, to mimic the bio-passport.

In addition, domestic riders who are part of USADA's Registered Testing Pool are tested out-of-competition throughout the year and will continue to be subject to testing before the Amgen Tour.

During the race, the UCI in-competition testing will include the stage winner, current leader of the general classification and three other riders from the peloton.

“We are grateful for our partnership with USADA and the UCI to ensure that we are doing all we can to guarantee a fair competition for the athletes,” said Messick. “We are committed to continue to explore additional ways to ensure a clean race.”

The methods are largely similar to those which were successful in catching CERA use in the 2008 Tour de France, when the French Anti-doping Agency was employed by Tour organizer ASO.

Since then, AEG has partnered with ASO to extend the Amgen Tour's worldwide media presence, but Messick said the French company did not directly influence his race's anti-doping policies.

"Both the ASO and AEG share the philosophy of providing clean athletes a chance to compete and win on a level playing field, but beyond that there was no formal cooperation with this anti-doping initiative."