UCI dismisses Tour dope test results

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The Independent Online

The International Cycling Union (UCI) last night angrily dismissed the results of drug tests carried out by a French anti-doping agency on riders during the Tour de France.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) last night angrily dismissed the results of drug tests carried out by a French anti-doping agency on riders during the Tour de France.

The UCI said it stood by the results of its own doping controls and disputed a report by the Council for Prevention of Drug Use (CPLD) that found 45 per cent of riders who provided samples for them during this year's race showed traces of drugs in their systems.

The UCI announced last week that all drug tests carried out on the Tour had been negative. Three riders, however, were sent home before the start of the Tour after blood tests showed they had illegal levels of hematacrite - which suggests use of the banned hormone erythropoietin (EPO). "We are following the rules of the IOC [International Olympic Committee]. Maybe these people don't know the rules," said a UCI spokesman, Enrico Carpani. "They [the CPLD] have created confusion."

The CPLD said 96 tests had been performed on 71 cyclists during the race. Of those, 28 tests came back positive for cortico-steroids, which reduce fatigue and act as pain-killers, and 10 tests were positive for stimulants, salbutamol and terbutaline, which aid breathing. Five tests revealed the presence of both types of drug.

In a tersely worded press release, the UCI were quick to point out that 26 of the 28riders who tested positive for corticoids had medical clearance to use the drug and, as announced in their own press release on 2 August, they were still investigating the two remaining cases.

The UCI also dismissed the 10 cases involving salbutamol and terbutaline. Of nine tests that found traces of salbutamol, all were within or below IOC- approved limits of between 100 to 1,000 nanograms per million. The one positive result for terbutaline was prescribed for the rider and validated in his medical passport. The names of the riders tested by CPLD were not given.

Drug-testing during the race has been stepped up since the scandal-ridden 1998 Tour. The CPLD, set up by the French government in the wake of that furore, is an independent body that carries out its own testing. It has the right under French law to impose sanctions on both French and foreign riders if it is not satisfied with the actions taken by sporting bodies.

Tour de France officials were not available for comment last night, but the French Ministry of Sport issued a statement saying that the figures confirmed "the necessity to continue the fight against doping".

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