Cycling: Rider who tested positive is cleared

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The Independent Online
THE TOUR de France rider found with corticoids in his system was yesterday cleared by cycling's top anti-doping official, Leon Schattenberg. The sports newspaper L'Equipe had reported that a rider tested after the Tour prologue last week had been found with traces of corticoids in his urine.

Corticoids are derivatives of cortisone, and riders are obliged to declare if they are using such medication or face sanctions. However, Schattenberg, the head of the International Cycling Union (UCI) anti-doping commission, said: "One rider showed up, as certain media has reported, but he had a valid medical certificate."

The UCI president, Hein Verbruggen, had warned riders before the Tour about a new test set up by a French laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry, near Paris, making it possible to detect corticoids, which so far have been almost impossible to trace.

The Tour director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, said: "Hein Verbruggen warned riders that the French lab could detect corticoids. Now [if] you are telling me that corticoids have been in use for 20 years, you can't expect that riders will stop using them three days before the Tour." Leblanc said all deterrents were good but he would understand a UCI decision to be lenient if it turned out to concern only small amounts of corticoids.

The American Lance Armstrong, one of the four riders tested on Saturday, said he was not too worried. "Yes, I was one of the four riders tested that day because I won it. No, I have not received any message from the UCI."

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