Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi and his LPR team have been forced off next weekend's Paris-Tours race for failing to sign up to the International Cycling Union's new blood passport programme.
Organisers of the French one-day classic, ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), said Saturday that two other teams, Mitsubishi and Collstrop, will also be denied a start for the same reason.
"The UCI officially informed us on Friday that these teams have not registered for the blood passport programme," said a spokesman for ASO, the parent company of the Tour de France. "We decided to immediately pull them out of the race."
LPR's inclusion on the organisers' list of teams prompted some grumbling within the peloton, with threats of a boycott, because the Italian outfit have not yet fully complied with cycling's new anti-doping rules.
The blood passport scheme is the UCI's latest weapon in the fight against doping and could prove to be the biggest deterrent yet for the drugs cheats who continue to damage the sport's reputation.
In theory, anti-doping authorities use the physiological readings from blood samples taken from the professional peloton as the basis upon which to compare further samples taken from later anti-doping controls.
Any discrepancies or odd readings would prompt further scrutiny, and possibly sanctions.
Not being part of the scheme, however, did not stop LPR from participating in the Tour of Britain two weeks ago, where Petacchi won three stages.
Paris-Tours, the penultimate one-day classic of the season ahead of the Tour of Lombardy, will now be composed of 22 teams.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008