Italian tour adopts a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on CERA
By Agence France Presse
Giro d’Italia chief Angelo Zomegnan said he will not retroactively test samples from the 2008 race in a bid to weed out possible users of CERA, the latest generation of the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).
According to Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, Zomegnan believes none of the riders on the race – won by Spaniard Alberto Contador – used the drug.
“The Giro has already made the necessary checks and the laboratories, as well as the UCI, have affirmed there is nothing to suspect,” said Zomegnan. “It would be useless to ask for new tests.”
Zomegnan’s comments come despite one of the stars of the 2008 Giro – Riccardo Ricco – testing positive for a new generation of EPO called CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator).
Ricco was the first athlete to test positive for CERA at the Tour de France, where he won two stages. He has since been handed a 20-month ban, however the Italian climber was a runner-up at the Giro around a month earlier.
Last week two others riders, German Stefan Schumacher and Leonardo Piepolo of Italy, tested positive for CERA. Schumacher won both time trials at the Tour and Piepoli, a teammate of Ricco’s at the race, won the 10th stage in the Pyrenees.
The emergence of CERA has prompted Olympic chiefs to decide to retroactively test a number of blood samples from athletes who competed at the Beijing Games.
IOC spokesman Emmanuelle Moreau told AFP that it was simply a logical option to pursue.
“This is part of our normal procedure,” Moreau said. “We keep the samples for eight years and whenever a new test arrives we carry out new tests.”