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Unidentified rider tests positive for EPO at Tour(5 posts)

Unidentified rider tests positive for EPO at Tourspyderman
Jul 27, 2003 11:36 PM
Hopes of a completely clean centenary Tour de France have been dashed by the news that an unidentified rider has tested positive for banned endurance enhancer EPO (erythropoietin), officials confirmed here Sunday.

It is the first positive test of the 90th edition and centenary race that was won for the fifth consecutive time by American Lance Armstrong of the US Postal team.

The first sample has tested positive for EPO although it will be a few days before the results of a B sample are known.

"The rider concerned is not someone who has won a stage," a race official told AFP here Sunday, rejecting a suggestion that it could be one of the big names on the Tour.

Race director Jean-Marie Leblanc had said in his closing press conference on the Tour that it just goes to show that anti-doping measures are weeding out the culprits.

"It proves that the anti-doping measures we put in place and which have been reinforced since 1998 (when the Festina scandal sullied the race) are working," said Leblanc.

"Unfortunately we still have to deal with riders who still haven't got the message. But all we can do is weed them out, sanction them and then carry on with the majority of the other riders."

Since the detection of EPO in urine samples was pioneered by a French laboratory, only one rider has been banned from the Tour and sanctioned - Spaniard Txema Del Olmo who tested positive for the drug in 2001.

Tour officials increased the number of tests carried out on riders to between 80 and 90.

However because of recent scandals, there is still suspicion that some riders are continuing to use a substance which has been the endurance athletes' drug of choice since the early 1990's.

Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas and Spaniard Francisco Perez have both tested positive for EPO this season.

EPO helps to increase the number of red blood cells in the blood, thus allowing athletes to work for longer.
How much does the EPO test cost?Dwayne Barry
Jul 28, 2003 5:49 AM
Isn't odd that the one drug known to have significant performance enhancing capabilities is only tested for 80 to 90 times. Even if each of those tests is on a different rider, you've got less than 50% chance of being tested. And the time span over which the test is effective is very small compared to the time span over which the drug's beneficial effects would be reaped. I bet far more riders than most of us think are still using it.
How much does the EPO test cost?TJeanloz
Jul 28, 2003 9:00 AM
I agree that more riders than we might expect are probably using EPO, or whatever the next big thing is these days. However, despite only doing 80 or 90 tests, they do give the test to the most obvious suspects - it's much more likely for a top-10 rider to be tested than somebody who's struggling to stay on the back.
I agree...Dwayne Barry
Jul 28, 2003 9:16 AM
or at least the guy who's going to get caught will probably be a lesser rider because he feels he won't be tested and can therefore risk it, and the top guy's are probably way more sophisticated in beating the tests.

Interestingly indications are that the rider who failed the EPO test at this year's tour is probably an unremarkable rider.
How much does the EPO test cost?dlbcx
Jul 28, 2003 9:31 AM
Probably true that more riders are using something than what are being caught. But, you got have some bucks to buy the stuff and you need a special refrigerator to store it. Also, you need blood thinners and a centrifuge in order to keep blood thin enough so that a clot doesn't form, causing a stroke or heart attack. Also, what the lab may be looking for would be higher than normal iron content because these extra cells will require more iron to make hemoglobin.
I have a teammate who is a doctor and she told me that there are some new drugs in clinical trials that would make EPO and steroids look tame. One such drug has been shown to lower body fat and increase lean muscle mass without exercising. Apparently it worked; the mice got pretty buff. Another is a blood replacement drug that increases O2 uptake by 10-20%. So, you wouldn't have to increase your number of red blood cells, as EPO does, but use this blood replacement to increase the efficiency of how well O2 is transported. I think this was the stuff that Frigo got busted for. But, I read the clinical info on it and it killed 2 of 3 people during the trials period. So, the company stopped the trials.