Cycling: Dutch rider to miss Tour after EPO test

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The Dutchman Thomas Dekker has been ruled out of the Tour de France, which begins on Saturday, after a positive test for the banned blood-booster EPO. He has been replaced in the Silence-Lotto team by Briton Charles Wegelius.

"We have learnt on Wednesday morning that new tests have proved positive for EPO," a statement from Silence-Lotto said. "He [Dekker] has been immediately put on a list of 'non-active' riders," said sports director Marc Sergeant. At the time of the test, Dekker was riding for the Rabobank team.

Dekker was found guilty of a doping offence after the International Cycling Union unearthed suspicious data in the blood samples the Dutch rider provided in 2008 and 2009 as part of the build-up of his biological passport.

Dekker, one of the riders who was supposed to support last year's runner-up Cadel Evans on the Tour starting from Monaco on Saturday, was replaced by the 31-year-old Wegelius, who is an experienced Tour rider.

The UCI asked the Monaco federation, to which Dekker is affiliated, to open disciplinary proceedings against the 24-year-old, twice a Dutch time- trial champion, who faces a two-year ban from the sport. "The UCI has instructed the Monegasque Cycling Federation... to open disciplinary proceedings," a UCI statement read.