Saxo Bank road race team ends internal anti-doping programme

New blood passport programme is enough

Top Danish cycling team Saxo Bank, who won last year's Tour de France through Carlos Sastre when known as CSC, have officially ended an internal anti-doping programme run by Dr. Ramsus Damsgaard.

CSC introduced their much-heralded programme in the wake of the Operation Puerto drugs scandal, which erupted in Spain in May 2006.

But the team, now known as Saxo Bank, said in a newspaper report today (4th February) that the introduction of the International Cycling Union's latest arm in the fight against doping - the blood passport programme - had forced them into a rethink.

"The International Cycling Union has set a standard which means that we would simply be doubling up," Saxo Bank spokesman Bryan Nygaard told Jyllands-Posten Wednedday.

A year after Operation Puerto erupted in 2006 one of the team's former top riders, Ivan Basso, was suspended for two years for his role in the affair which snared him while he was racing with the Discovery Channel team.

Ramsgaard was then brought on board to analyse and publish the team's own internal doping tests and the programme was seen as one of a kind in the much-criticised sport.

However, lately, Damsgaard has come under criticism from the medical chief of a top Copenhagen hospital, Dr. Bo Belhage.

Belhage helped start the programme at CSC, but he began to have reservations about how it was being run, claiming it was not transparent enough, which led to the hospital and Damsgaard severing ties.

"Anti-doping programmes need to be transparent to the public, especially when the programme originates in a public hospital," he told Cyclingnews recently.

Damsgaard has, however, been kept on by the team.

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