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No Yellow Jersey?!

  • July 26th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

tdf-jaune-f_2-resize.jpgTour de France officials blame cycling officials and the world wonders again if or when doping will stop

TURMOIL AT THE TOP

Organisers of the Tour de France announced (26.7.07) they would “accept” the withdrawal from the event of the former race leader, Michael Rasmussen, by his own team – leaving vacant the number one spot at the start of the next day’s racing.

He had failed to give a proper explanation for missing four doping controls during the pre-race training period.

They left his name on the official race bulletin as winner of Wednesday’s event (see EUAustralia 26.7.07, 09:00 AEST) , but after twelve hours the yellow jumper symbol was erased from the display – meaning no current race leader for the Tour de France.

Heads of the Tour organisation and its partner group for the event AMO (Amaury Sports Organisation) announced a new yellow jersey would be issued when they got a winner at the end of Thursday’s Stage 17.

WHO TO BLAME?

The Tour de France Director, Christian Prudhomme, said the cycling body UCI (Union Cyclisme Internationale) realised in advance that something was wrong and should have told him then.

He said UCI had actually issued the rider with a warning letter on 29.6.07, a week before the start of the race.

“He should never have been at the start,” Mr Prudhomme said.

Australia’s Cadel Evans is by default in second place with an open road and maybe an honest contest to enjoy on the road to Paris.

WHAT’S DOPING?

Once again performance enhancing substances are being reviewed, revisiting the shocked aftermath of cycling’s first major doping scandal, at the Tour de France of 1998 – and similar outbreaks in other sports including swimming, cross country ski-ing, weight-lifting, athletics and Football.

Some of the offending substances: anabolic steroids (steroid hormones which build up muscle mass); the related male hormone testosterone; erythropoietin (EPO) an hormone that increases red blood cells, boosting oxygen supply to the muscles; and stimulants and anti-fatigue drugs.

Athletes who avoid the substances win fair and square, avoid disqualification and disgrace, and reduce the chance of damaging their livers, hearts and reproductive systems.

Those who transgress can do a lot to mask the evidence of their treatments, even in the face of rigorous and regular medical testing.

BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS – KEY TOOL FOR DOPERS

One French authority questioned in public about this source of his country’s anxiety (in the major chatroom, lemonde.fr), Gerard Dine, said this week (24.7.07) blood transfusions remained a useful device for athletes and their associates attempting to cheat.

Dr Dine, a haematologist and immunologist specialising in sports doping, said testing was highly dependable for finding substances that could be detected by analysis of urine.

However blood testing was less reliable, because there were technical problems administering the particular tests needed to detect evidence where transfusions had been done.

“It’s not really a toxicological test, rather a method of biological control, similar to medical treatments used with patients”, he said.

“Blood transfusion is a heavily used form of doping because it works well.”

(“Ce n’est pas vraiment un test toxicologique, c’est une methode de controle biologique qui se rapproche des methods medicales qu’on itilise chez les patients … La transfusion sanguine est un dopage tres utilise parce que tres efficace”).

Blood transfusions were exploited for doping with big effect from around 1970 until new blood controls were brought in, in 1984, though in elite cycling there have been only four cases of detection directly traced to a transfusion.

Reference:

Le Monde chat: http://ww.lemonde.fr/web/chat(26.7.07)

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