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Tour's first doping positive reported

Spaniard Manuel Beltrán has become the 2008 Tour de France's first doping positive. The Liquigas rider's A sample tested positive for the banned blood booster erythropoeitin following the first stage which ended in Plumelec last Saturday.

Tour organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), announced Friday evening that it had received confirmation from the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) of the positive result.

"The organisation of the Tour de France has received the confirmation from the AFLD that Manuel Beltrán had been tested positive after the first stage," the ASO statement said. "They notice the decision of the team Liquigas to exclude Beltrán from the Tour de France, according to the contract signed with all the teams engaged in the Tour."

The Liquigas team announced that it had immediately withdrawn Beltrán from the race, and suspended him from the team. Liquigas press officer Gabriele Sola confirmed the news to Cyclingnews. "Beltrán gave a positive and the police at this moment are at the hotel. The team suspended Beltrán immediately and he is pulled out from the Tour. If the counter-analysis confirms his positive, then Beltrán will be fired and have to pay the cost."

Team manager Roberto Amadio said he was "shocked" by the news. "We will await the outcome of further investigations and at the same time, albeit with pain, we are prepared to take stricter measures, with full respect for the values that have always been evident in our team."

The worldwide press received the news before the ASO could make an announcement, which the organisation said it regretted, saying some reporters have not yet understood that the determination in the fight against doping is total, "and that the noose is tightening on the cheaters".

The French newspaper L'Equipe reported that Beltran was one of ten riders found by the AFLD to have abnormal blood values in the days prior to the Tour. On July 3 and 4, the AFLD performed blood tests on riders "to allow for subsequent targeted doping tests during the Tour de France," the agency announced Friday.

The other nine riders who showed abnormal results will be informed this weekend by the AFLD, but the agency said that it would take no action against the riders other than to suggest that they submit the results to their team doctor "because of the possibility of a health risk," the statement read.

The AFLD said that it does not have the results of the same riders' testing which was performed in the first half of the year as part of the UCI's program, but "in the spirit of cooperation with the international federation" it would forward the results to the UCI for inclusion with those riders' profiles.

Beltrán, one of Lance Armstrong's former mountain domestique has ridden for the Liquigas team since leaving the Discovery Channel in 2006.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.