Drugs

Saunier-Duval Scott Official Statement

An official statement regarding Riccò has been released.

SAUNIER DUVAL-SCOTT announce that just an hour before the start of today´s stage, the French anti-doping agency notified Riccardo Riccò that he´d tested positive for a banned substance after the fourth stage of the Tour de France 2008. Although the Tour organisers allow teams to continue to participate after a positive test, given Riccò ´s important role to the team in the race, SAUNIER DUVAL-SCOTT have decided to withdraw in order to preserve the positive image of the team´s sponsors and the Tour de France itself. Riccò has been suspended.

Moreover, the team decided to temporarily abandon competition activities until this unfortunate incident is clarified.

Despite the problems, this is probably the best move the team could make given their situation.

Moises Duenas

A second rider has failed a drugs test in The Tour - this follows Manuel Beltran earlier.

L'equipe has this to say:

L'Espagnol Moïses Duenas (Photo L'Equipe), 19e du Tour de France après dix étapes et coureur n°1 de l'équipe Barloworld au général, a été contrôlé positif à l'EPO à l'issue du contre-la-montre disputé à Cholet le mardi 8 juillet. Il été emmené à la gendarmerie de Tarbes après une perquisition d'une heure effectuée mercredi matin par une trentaine de gendarmes dans l'hotel où logeait sa formation à Tarbes. Il s'agit du deuxième contrôle antidopage positif sur le Tour 2008 après celui, déjà à l'EPO, d'un autre Espagnol, Manuel Beltran (Liquigas). Ce qui a provoqué cette réaction de Pat McQuaid, le président de l'UCI : «L'Espagne est plus lente à comprendre le message (de la lutte antidopage)

Is EPO a controlled substance in France, or is it just controlled for the sportsmen? If the latter, why are the Gendarmerie involved?

Either way, I'm still amazed that they risked it given the attention this issue was bound to get during this tour after last year.

As an aside - it'd be lovely to see some other races for different types of cycling. How about the Tour de Tandem, the Tour de Fold or, erm... the Tour de Donut.... hang on, at least that last one already exists!

Manuel Beltran tests positive.

Tour de France Out of Bounds

L'equipe is reporting that Manuel Beltran of the Liquigas team has tested positive for the banned substance EPO in a urine sample.

Information L'Equipe : l'Espagnol Manuel Beltran (Liquigas), 37 ans, présente des traces d'EPO dans l'échantillon A de ses urines prélevé à l'issue de la première étape du Tour de France, samedi 5 juillet entre Brest et Plumelec.

Professionnel depuis 1995, Beltran a débuté sa carrière chez Mapei avant de passer par Banesto, Team Coast et de devenir l'un des principaux équipiers en montagne de Lance Armstrong à l'US Postal et chez Discovery Channel.

Beltran fait partie de ceux qui avaient été ciblés par l'Agence Française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD) lors des prélèvements sanguins effectués les 3 et 4 juillet derniers à Brest avant le départ.

BBC article.

After last year's fiasco where the race leader, Rasmussen, was sacked for doping (although he is now getting compensation!) the image of cycling was dramatically tarnished, and we all knew, even those who were not intimately involved, that this year they'd be extra-vigilant about doping.

I can't believe that Beltran has tested positive in this climate of vigilance.

It does make Pat McQuaid's predictions look rather quaint though.

"This year's Tour probably will go down as one of the cleanest on record," International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid told the Associated Press in the lead-up to Saturday's start of the three-week race.

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