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Retroactive testing reveals suspicious activity in South Africa

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The riders' blood samples are taken

The riders' blood samples are taken (Image credit: Team RadioShack)
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A lab technician analyzes samples in an anti-doping test.

A lab technician analyzes samples in an anti-doping test. (Image credit: AFP)
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2006 Tour de Langkawi winner David George (South Africa)

2006 Tour de Langkawi winner David George (South Africa) (Image credit: Shane Goss)

The South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (SAIDS) said that athlete testing will increase, with more cyclists subject to a biological passport program in the wake of the results from retroactive testing of 50 cyclists from events in 2012.

The samples were taken from both mountain bike and road events following the two-year-ban of South African David George in December. George, a former US Postal rider and last-up winner of the Cape Pioneer Trek, returned the positive doping control in an out-of-competition test at the end of August. According to AP, he was targeted after his biological passport "showed suspicious activity."

SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant explained that it was important that athletes be aware that his organisation was serious about cleaning up the sport.

"Our aggressive testing strategy will hopefully serve as a deterrent to those that have been engaging in doping practices and to those who believe they can still beat the doping control system," he said.

"More cyclists will be included in the Athlete Biological Passport programme that involves the monitoring and interpretation of selected biological parameters over time that may reveal the effects of doping, rather than attempting to detect the doping substance itself," Galant continued.

The samples, which had been stored in a laboratory in Bloemfontein before being sent to another in Austria for confirmation analyses returned a number of "suspicious" results however none were conclusive enough for the athletes to be subject to anti-doping violation procedures. The events ranged over a four-month period - MTN Series #7, 23 September; Crater Cruise, 13 October; Amashovashova, 14 October; Momentum 94,7fm Race, 18 November; National Track Championships, 25 November; MTN Qubekha Track Competition, 1 December; and the Die Burger Cycle Race, 4 December.

"The lesson learnt from the Armstrong affair is that cyclists who micro-dose with EPO are often able to beat the anti-doping authorities," said Galant.

"It is, however, much more difficult to beat the system when blood samples are analysed over a series of tests."


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