Cycling chiefs to name latest cheats, threaten sanctions

2009 Tour de France to be the most tested sports event in history

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced that several riders currently under suspicion of doping will be named publicly next week, and will subsequently face sanctions.

UCI chief Pat McQuaid has not given any details on the riders involved.

But, a day after Spaniard Anton Colom was revealed to have tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) - a test borne of suspicious blood readings on his biological passport - more riders are set to fall victim to the efficiency of the sport's newest weapon in the coming days.

"Following a meeting of experts in Geneva last week, the UCI has decided to start disciplinary actions against a certain number of riders on the basis of evidence taken from their biological passports," said McQuaid.

"They will be informed early next week, we will inform their teams and national federations and then we will make a public statement, naming the riders. The process has already started."

As well as a question mark over who is suspected of cheating, it remains to be seen how the UCI deals with the riders involved - none of whom have, as yet, tested positive.

However because of the growing influence of the biological passport, a scheme to which all 800 professional riders around the world have adhered, the UCI is still able to use its evidence to strongly advise the relevant national federations to mete out sanctions to the riders involved.

It’s also been announced that riders in the 2009 Tour de France will face the biggest anti-doping army ever seen at a major sports event next month.

"The Tour de France in 2009 will probably be the most tested sports event in history," McQuaid said.

Even before the race the entire peloton will undergo tests to make sure they, as is often done in the weeks leading to major events, are not preparing with banned performance enhancers on the sly.

McQuaid said that around 50 of those most likely to star at the three-week epic will come in for special attention.

As well as EPO, the UCI and AFLD will search for insulin and growth hormones, although a question mark remains over testing for autologous blood tranfusions.

Currently, athletes can be caught with a test which detects the use of a compatible donor's blood to boost performance, although no test exists for the use of one's own blood - taken out then reinjected.

That slight blip on the anti-doping radar is one which the UCI hopes will be erased by the biological passport.

© AFP 2009

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