Cycling: Stricter drugs testing for Tour

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The Independent Online

Tour de France organisers have unveiled new measures to counter drug abuse in this year's running of the sport's biggest event. Two riders were dropped from this year's Giro d'Italia after failing drugs tests, and for the second year running police raided team hotel rooms in search of banned products.

Tour de France organisers have unveiled new measures to counter drug abuse in this year's running of the sport's biggest event. Two riders were dropped from this year's Giro d'Italia after failing drugs tests, and for the second year running police raided team hotel rooms in search of banned products.

Riders will face random drugs tests in the four weeks up to the start of the Tour on 6 July. Results are expected before the race begins, and riders who fail tests will be excluded. Like last year, all riders will undergo blood tests two days before the Tour begins and up to 10 will be tested after each of the race's 20 stages. There will also be random tests during the two rest days.

The number of EPO tests will increase from 72 last year to 90 – the maximum France's national anti-doping laboratory can handle.

Riders will also have to sign an ethical code, which calls on them to accept the rules of fair competition and to renounce all forms of cheating.

* Alex Zülle took an early lead in the Tour of Switzerland when he set the fastest time in yesterday's prologue. The Team Coast rider finished the 5.7km run in hot conditions around the Lucerne course in 7min 37.48sec, beating the Italian Giuseppe Di Grande, by 5.53sec, with his Swiss compatriot Laurent Dufaux finishing third.

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