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Lab official still wary of Tour

By Andrew Hood and Charles Pelkey

It seems some people don’t want to believe that the 2009 Tour de France was as pure as spring water.

Pierre Bordry, the head of the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD), is telling the French daily Le Monde that he thinks as many as two new doping products as well as auto-blood transfusions could have been used during the 96th edition.

“There’s a likelihood of blood transfusions and two new products that have been used during the Tour, but are not yet on the market,” Bordry told Le Monde in its Tuesday edition.

Testers have been able to detect the presence of donor blood – homologous blood doping – since 2004, but a method of detecting a riders own reinjected red cells – autologous blood doping – remains elusive.

Many believe that one of the products Bordry is referring to is Hematide , a new drug that stimulates red blood cell production in ways that differ from synthetic erythropoietin (EPO).

Hematide, which is still in the stage-three clinical testing phase but could hit the market in 2011, is already on the list of banned substances from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The manufacturer, however, has been cooperating with the agency for the past two years and most experts suggest that the synthetic peptide erythropoiesis-stimulating agent would be relatively easy to detect.

The other product is thought to be AICAR, a product that promotes muscle growth and helps burn fat. AICAR is hyped online as a “non-exercise” drug that helps patients burn fat instead of sugar stores, thus increasing weight loss and endurance.

As with Hematide, authorities are confident that AICAR would not present significant problems for laboratories hoping to detect its presence in a urine sample.

The French authorities are also back-testing samples from 15 riders from the 2008 Tour as well.

Bordry, who is one of the most consistent voices in the fight to clean up sport, also said that doping products were found when authorities searched the refuse and garbage left behind by teams.

“We found heavy drugs, including one that is used by diabetics to produce insulin,” he said.

Bordry’s comments come as many observers are hailing the 2009 Tour a scandal-free success.

As previous Tours have revealed, however, it can take several weeks or even months before all anti-doping samples have been fully analyzed.

See Bordy’s interview in Le MondeEditor

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