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By Agence France Presse
The agency charged with carrying out anti-doping controls at this year’s Tour de France has played down a report that 10 riders are about to be issued warnings for “suspect” blood samples.
A report in the French newspaper Le Monde on Friday suggested that the riders were being specifically targeted by the AFLD, France’s national anti-doping agency, because of suspected doping. However a statement by the AFLD, later in the day, dismissed those claims as speculation.
The AFLD said it had merely informed the doctors at the teams concerned that some riders “risked health problems” due to deficiencies relating to certain biological parameters.
“The blood samples taken from the entire Tour de France peloton on July 3 and 4 have been analyzed by the anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne, which is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI),” said the statement issued on the AFLD website.
“In accordance with current rules, the results of these analyses will be handed over to the riders this weekend,” the statement continued. “This in no way suggests that the riders concerned have been given a warning. However, for medical reasons and because of values of certain parameters, it will be suggested to those riders that they hand over the results to their team doctors.”
Le Monde, which rarely reports on cycling unless doping is involved, claimed the AFLD was about to issue “warnings” to the riders.
The report said that their blood test results revealed “quite worrying” parameters, which would lead to further, “targeted” tests.
So far in this year’s race, there have been no doping scandals. The race finishes on July 27 and has yet to reach the mountains, the first real stage of which is on Sunday.
The UCI launched a far-reaching blood passport scheme in the months leading up to the Tour de France as its latest weapon in the fight against doping. The results from the analysis of the blood samples taken from the Tour de France peloton on July 3 and 4 have been handed over to the UCI, for use in the biological passport program.
Its aim is to deter cheating by registering athletes’ blood, and eventually urine, parameters. Those parameters will then be used as a benchmark against which further samples can be compared.
Anomalies in blood parameters can indicate the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as EPO (erythropoietin) or the use of blood transfusions.