September 25, 2020

Riccardo Ricco Tests Positive for Undetectable New Drug Mircera at 2008 Tour de France

Cyclist Riccardo Ricco of the Saunier Duval-Scott team tested positive for the new performance enhancing drug Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta) at the 2008 Tour de France. Ricco is a top cyclist on the Tour and the King of the Mountains and White Jersey leader.

Mircera is a third generation version of erythropoietin manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-LaRoche that has been called “Super EPO.” The big news at the Tour is not that another cyclist was caught doping, it is that a cyclist was caught using a performance enhancing drug that was widely considered “undetectable.” The quick withdrawal of the entire Saunier Duval team from the Tour supports speculation that Mircera was the team’s secret weapon (“Riccardo Riccò tests positive; Saunier Duval team withdraws from Tour de France,” July 17).

Recent rumors in the sport had suggested that some riders were using an undetectable new oxygen-enhancing drug widely thought to be Roche’s Micera. The existence of a test for CERA was not announced, but Riccò’s positive for the substance suggests that it has not escaped the attention of anti-doping officials.

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