New CERA suspected from 2008 Giro, while ‘undetectable’ ozone doping pinpointed
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Friday, October 30, 2009

New CERA suspected from 2008 Giro, while ‘undetectable’ ozone doping pinpointed

by Conal Andrews at 11:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Doping
 

Italian investigators suspect six or seven riders who competed in the 2008 Giro d’Italia of having used the third generation form of EPO, CERA, in the race, and are awaiting further confirmation.

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the Padua public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti had ordered 82 samples to be analysed at the Italian Olympic Committee's “Acqua Acetosa” anti-doping laboratory. These samples were seized by Italian police earlier this year, and follow on from several positive tests for CERA taken after the race.

CSF Navigare rider Emanuele Sella tested positive for CERA later that summer, as did several Tour de France riders including Riccardò Ricco. Sella won three stages plus the mountains classification in the Giro, while Saunier Duval rider Riccò was second overall behind Alberto Contador (Astana).

Ricco also netted two stages plus the best young rider award, several weeks before taking two stages in the Tour de France.

At this point it is uncertain if either of the riders are amongst those identified with suspicious readings. The next step is for the prosecutor Roberti to liase with the UCI and cross-reference the results with data from the anti-doping lab in Lausanne. Once this is done confirmation can be made as to whether the riders did indeed use the banned substance.

Meanwhile investigations into the ‘Via Col doping’ affair have pinpointed a new form of blood doping which is almost undetectable. The so-called ozone therapy involves the extraction of 200cc of blood, mixing this with ozone and then re-injecting it. It aids oxygen transport and is therefore banned under WADA’s wider guidelines on cheating, but does not change blood values and therefore is likely to evade detection under the biological passport system.

The investigation was sparked off when the father of the former Gerolsteiner rider Andrea Moletta was stopped by police during the 2008 Giro. Several substances were found, including huge amounts of viagra which – apart from a customary use which would be somewhat impractical while on a Grand Tour - is believed to aid blood flow in competition.

While viagra is not banned under WADA rules, the police also seized a tube of toothpaste which contained a hidden syringe filled with the hormone Lutrelef.

Italian doctor Enrico Lazzaro was arrested and, according to Italian reports, he had a system of codenames similar to that used by the doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. This has made the identification of the athletes concerned a difficult task, but it is believed that Davide Rebellin and climber Emanuele Sella are also being investigated.

Other unnamed professional and amateur riders plus some coaches are similarly suspected of involvement in a wider, related doping probe, with a total of 30 people being involved at this stage.

Police tapped Lazzaro’s phones and also planted video cameras in his office. The surveillance showed clients such as a 15 year old Italian female swimmer receiving the ozone therapy.

Lazzaro was previously implicated in the raids on the 2001 Giro d’Italia. He has been banned from going near his clinic in Montegrotto Terme while the investigation continues.

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