September 29, 2020

Blame Spain for Doping in the Tour de France

The desperation in professional cycling is increasing as commentators try to explain away the pervasive doping problems in the sport. At the onset of the 2008 Tour de France, the doping problem was characterized as a generational issue. The “old cycling” versus “new cycling” story was bolstered when 37-year old Miguel Beltran tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO). Beltran represented the old school generation that was to blame for systematic doping in the sport. The story offered hope for a clean drug-free sport with the emergence of several young, talented riders that represented “new cycling.” (“Riccò case a setback for ‘new cycling’,” July 17)

Faith in the new generation of cycling was shattered when Riccardo Ricco tested positive for EPO and the new CERA drug Mircera.  How could the story of “new cycling” explain why the 24-year old leader of the best young rider competition was doping just the same as the old generation of cycling? The old generation could no longer be blamed for the scourge of doping in cycling. Cycling needed a new story!

The Scotsman was happy to provide a new story to preserve the integrity of the Tour: Blame the country of Spain for doping problems in cycling! If Spain were eliminated from world maps, the Tour de France would apparently be a very clean sport. How did the Scotsman arrive at this conclusion? [Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]