World Anti-Doping Agency officials offered condolences Tuesday following the death of Jacques de Ceaurriz, who was widely regarded as a scientific pioneer in the fight against doping in sport.
The head of the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory near Paris, De Ceaurriz’s death at the age of 60 on Tuesday was announced by France’s national anti-doping agency, the AFLD. The agency did not reveal the cause of De Ceaurriz’s death.
Among his numerous scientific achievements De Ceaurriz notably helped pioneer in 2000 a test to detect the performance-boosting hormone EPO (erythropoietin).
It proved a pivotal moment in the fight against doping, helping to snare many cheats across a range of sports and, almost as importantly, providing a major deterrent for would-be cheats.
“The fight against doping in sport has lost one of its most eminent scientists,” read a statement from WADA chief John Fahey.
“Jacques De Ceaurriz was not only a skilled researcher, but also a man willing to share his scientific knowledge with the anti-doping community to help advance the greater cause of the fight against doping in sport.”
A chemist by profession, De Ceaurriz worked as a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry and as a professor at a top Paris university before being appointed head of the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory in 1997.
It was during his time in charge that he helped snare many drugs cheats from the sports of tennis, athletics and cycling.
American Floyd Landis, the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, was stripped of his crown for testing positive for testosterone after samples taken during the race were tested at the Paris laboratory.
Landis was highly critical of the laboratory’s techniques and challenged his test results in a contentious 2007 hearing in California and then to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. The former Phonak rider lost the first round on a 2-1 decision and his appeal was unanimously rejected by a three-member CAS panel in 2008. In both cases, the panels ruled that while the lab had violated certain procedural rules, none of those errors would have affected the outcome of the tests.
A year earlier in 2005 Lance Armstrong hit out at De Ceaurriz’s lab which had, supposedly for research purposes, re-tested samples from the 1999 edition of the Tour.
The results led to allegations by L’Equipe that several samples belonging to the American from the 1999 edition contained EPO, splashing the story on the front page only days after Armstrong’s record seventh Tour triumph.
Despite the attacks, De Ceaurriz always claimed he did not know the identity of the athletes whose samples he was testing.