2008 Tour re-tests - calm before the storm?
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Friday, October 2, 2009

2008 Tour re-tests - calm before the storm?

by Bjorn Haake at 10:51 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

This month, the French antidoping agency AFLD (Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage) will start re-tests for the 2008 Tour de France doping samples. The French are on the lookout for CERA, a third-generation EPO substance.

For a long time, there was speculation if any re-tests for last year's Tour would even happen at all. Now, AFLD spokesperson Delphine Saint-Laurent confirmed it to German paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "Beginning of October we will begin with re-testing samples from the 2008 Tour."

In 2008, the Tour de France was run under the FFC (French Cycling Federation) and the AFLD was in charge of the doping tests. At the time, CERA was not detectable, but rule changes mean doping samples are now kept for eight years. CERA has the advantage (or disadvantage, depending on who you talk to) that it is detectable for a very long time.

There was already one round of re-testing last year and it has brought down Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl. Riccardo Riccó and Leonardo Piepoli were caught during the Tour itself. The difference now? The top 20 are supposed to be tested, no questions asked. According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung so far only random tests had been performed.

Kohl himself is expecting a storm to brew. He was visited by AFLD members this summer and they supposedly showed him a long list of riders who are suspected of doping.

AFLD president Pierre Bordry also hints to re-testing 2009 samples. The UCI was back in charge for this year's Tour, and it was surprisingly clean. Bordry indicated in July that two substances were used that were undetectable so far. Rumors are that the substances are Hematide, an EPO product, and synthetic Aicar. The latter stimulates muscle growth and burns fat. AFLD says it will have a test by this fall.

Belgian newspaper Le Soir named several riders as having suspicious blood values already last year, citing "reliable sources." If the high-profile names from then are really the ones showing up as positive? We will find out soon!


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