'Blood doping kits' found at Astana

But no evidence of any drugs

Blood doping kits were discovered in a search of medical equipment belonging to Lance Armstrong's Astana team during this year's Tour de France.

The find, which was first reported by French newspaper Le Monde, was confirmed yesterday to AFP by a source close to a French judicial investigation.

The source stressed that the inquiry opened by a Paris magistrates' court in July after the discovery of medical equipment such as "syringes and perfusions" at Astana during the Tour de France was continuing, and said it was premature to suggest the equipment might constitute illegal activity.

The source added: "No trace of any doping product has for the time being been uncovered by the analysis of this material" belonging to Astana.

According to Le Monde, antihypertensives (drugs that reduce high blood pressure) were also found at Astana during the search.

These drugs are not banned but can be used to treat hypertension associated with the practise of blood transfusions – which are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency – or the administering of the banned blood booster EPO.

Analysis of other products and equipment taken by investigators is continuing, the source said, adding that tests had indicated "seven different genetic profiles".

Identification of these profiles can only be made if and when the International Cycling Union (UCI) hands over riders' blood profiles to French justice.

While 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will continue to race for Astana next year, Armstrong, who claimed third behind the Spaniard in this year's race, has left to form his own team, RadioShack.

© AFP 2009

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