Brandt's positive test confirmed

Lotto-Domo rider Christophe Brandt's positive test for methadone has been confirmed after analysis o

Lotto-Domo rider Christophe Brandt's positive test for methadone has been confirmed after analysis o
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The Chatenay-Malabry laboratory on Tuesday night confirmed the result of the first and so far only positive dope test of the 2004 Tour de France. A repeat test on the urine of Christophe Brandt yielded the same positive result as had been made public last Friday, and which had lead to the Lotto-Domo rider's exclusion from the Tour. Brandt personally travelled to Chatenay-Malabry laboratory with his parents and his wife to await the test result on Tuesday. When the narcotic methadone again showed up in the urine Brandt submitted in Namur after stage two of the Tour, the 27-year-old Belgian vowed to continue the fight to clear his name. "I have been thrown out of the Tour like a villain," Brandt complained. "Now I am going to fight to prove my innocence." Brandt intends to achieve this aim by requesting an independent analysis of legal products he took prior to the Tour, in the hope of discovering what triggered his positive test for methadone. Brandt's team, Lotto-Domo, reacted yesterday by declaring that they would "wait for the outcome of this inquiry before taking action with regard to their rider's contract." "Before we start talking about a possible sacking," a Lotto spokesman said on Tuesday, "it seems more reasonable to find out more, especially since this substance is easily detectable and doesn't hold any real interest for riders wishing to dope themselves." The widespread perception that methadone cannot be used to enhance sporting performance was thrown into question on Tuesday by Dr Betrand Lebeau, a specialist in the treatment of drug addicts. Quoted by French newspaper L'Equipe, Lebeau pointed to methadone's pain-killing effects as a possible fillip for professional cyclists. "The drawback is that a person who isn't addicted to opoids (the category of drugs to which heroin belongs) can't take methadone in large quantities, since they risk an overdose." The Chatenay-Malabry laboratory's method for the detection of methadone is reportedly sensitive to traces of the substance ingested several weeks earlier. It is therefore possible that methadone had entered Brandt's system well in advance of the Tour de France.

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