German federation set to ban Stefan Schumacher

"At least a two year ban" says federation chief

Double Tour de France stage winner Stefan Schumacher is facing a two-year ban and a fine after confirmation of a positive test for EPO (erythropoietin), the German cycling federation (BDR) said Tuesday.

Schumacher was the second rider on Monday to have been exposed as a drugs cheat, following the news that Italian Leonardo Piepoli, who won the race's 10th stage in the Pyrenees, also tested positive for the banned blood booster. The BDR said they would be looking to ban Schumacher, the winner of the Tour's two time trials, for two years.

"The aim is at least a two-year ban. A fine and paying damages are sanctions that are also being considered," said BDR chief Rudolf Scharping in a statement.

He said Schumacher could see his sanctions reduced if he were to collaborate with an ensuing probe.

"Schumacher could positively influence our verdict if he decides he wants to collaborate and tell us from whom he got the drugs," Scharping told SID news agency. "All the relevant documents will be sent to the French (AFLD) and German (NADA) national anti-doping agencies."

Schumacher on Monday denied all knowledge of doping.

But news of his positive test for a new kind of EPO called CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator) - previously thought undetectable - was confirmed to his Gerolsteiner team boss by Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme on Monday.

Gerolsteiner boss Hans-Michael Holczer told SID: "The director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme, has confirmed it and I have no doubt that it (Schumacher's positive test) is true."

Holczer added that legal action would be taken against Schumacher.

Schumacher caused a minor sensation at this year's race when he won both time trials, both times leaving Switzerland's two-time world champion Fabian Cancellara in his wake. Schumacher went into the Tour already a target of testers from the AFLD and after they analysed blood samples from the German, following their pioneering of a new blood test for CERA, he was found to have used the drug.

One test was carried out at a laboratory in Lausanne, the other at the laboratory used by the AFLD.

Schumacher, who has recently signed for the Quick Step team, finds himself in a second drugs scandal inside a year. He was allowed to race at the Tour despite testing positive for amphetamines last year, only he was not banned because the test was carried out by police while he was driving.

He is the third rider from this year's Tour to test positive for CERA, the others being Piepoli and Italian climber Riccardo Riccò. Also, Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas tested positive for EPO during the Tour.

© AFP 2008

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