September 28, 2020

Alberto Contador Clenbuterol Case Highlights Problems with Zero-Tolerance Policy

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador may have used performance-enhancing drugs en route to a victory at the 2010 Tour de France. One doesn’t need to believe Contador is “innocent” to recognize significant problems with the anti-doping rules regarding clenbuterol. [Read more…]

WADA Claims Roche Pharmaceuticals Adds Molecule to Drugs in Anti-Doping Effort

John Fahey, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has revealed they are cooperating with Roche Pharmaceuticals to secretly add a “traceable molecule” to drugs likely to have performance enhancing effects in athletes. This was how AFLD was able to detect the previously-undetectable Mircera (CERA) in Riccardo Ricco’s sample at the 2008 Tour de France. Roche manufacures at least two PEDs used by cyclists – Mircera and NeoRecormon. Drug-tested athletes have been given notice to avoid using products manufactured by Roche Pharmaceuticals. [Read more…]

Spanish Doctor Implicated in Doping Scandal – "Germans Want to Shit on the Spaniards"

Spanish doctor Marcos Maynar Mariño sent an email offering comprehensive urinalysis and steroid profiling at 50 euros per athlete to as many as ten professional cycling teams including Gerolsteiner, Milram, CSC and Columbia . Maynar offered to provide a complete analysis consistent with the same control methods used by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The services would be conducted by the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry at the Faculty of Sciences at the Universidad de Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain (“Dos médicos españoles, acusados de dopar,” July 20).

According to the German television station ARD, Spanish doctor Marcos Maynar offered these services as for internal testing allowing athletes to monitor their doping to ensure that their use of performance enhancing drugs would not be detected by doping controls at the 2008 Tour de France and other pro cycling events. Maynar responded to the allegations that he aided and abetted doping by suggesting that ARD had ulterior motives stemming from bitterness over disgraced cyclist Jan Ullrich (“Marcos Maynar niega que quiera favorecer el dopaje,” July 21).

“Since Jan Ullrich’s tested positive, the Germans have wanted to shit on the Spaniards.”

[Read more…]

Legality of Anti-Doping Test for Mircera at 2008 Tour de France

The French National Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) has been utlizing a secret new anti-doping test for a previously undetectable performance-enhancing drug during the 2008 Tour de France. Rumors about a test for Mircera started circulating when cyclist Riccardo Ricco failed his doping protocol. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) quickly confirmed the rumors.

WADA gave notice to cyclists competing at the 2008 Tour de France that they were now able to detect the performance enhancing drug Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta), a third generation version of erythropoietin (EPO) belonging to the category of drugs known as Continuous Erythropoeitin Receptor Activators (CERA).

Doping experts concerned with the fairness of the doping protocols administered by WADA-accredited labs were quick to raise questions about the new CERA doping detection methods [Read more…]

Professional Cycling is Synonymous with Doping

Rant’s Daniel Rosen asked the question “Will it ever be possible to have a Tour de France… that is completely free of doping?” I would answer that with a definitive no – not now, not ever. Professional cycling is an extreme sport that is practically synonymous with doping.

Steroid and doping expert Dr. John Hoberman of the University of Texas wrote an article about the Festina scandal at the 1998 Tour de France for me almost ten years ago. Hoberman thought that the public had finally accepted that the Tour de France during a “definitive outing of the Tour as a virtual pharmacy on wheels.”

The Tour debacle has finally made it acceptable to say in public and without provocation what many have known for a long time, namely, that long-distance cycling has been the most consistently drug-soaked sport of the twentieth century. 

Unfortunately, we still have not come to terms with an acknowledgement of the scope of doping in cycling. We continue to entertain incredulous stories that doping in the sport is limited to certain generations of riders or specific geographical areas. We still believe in fairy tales that tell us a dope-free Tour de France is possible. It is not. So what should be done about doping in cycling? [Read more…]

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…]

Cyclist Jan Ullrich Pays Fine for Defrauding Public by Doping

Since doping is not a crime in Germany, German prosecutors sued cyclist Jan Ullrich for fraud based on evidence of the use of banned blood doping and performance-enhancing drugs (“Jan Ullrich draws 1M euro fine in doping fraud case,” April 12).

Disgraced former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich is to pay out a million euro fine to end a fraud case which German prosecutors have been investigating, Focus news magazine reported on its Web site Saturday.

Prosecutors accused the 1997 Tour de France winner of taking performance-enhancing drugs, leading under German law to fraud charges against the 34-year-old on the basis he deceived the public, sponsors and his team.

The United States does not have laws that specifically criminalize doping in sports. However, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, passed as a direct result of doping scandals in sports, criminalizes the non-medical uses of anabolic-androgenic steroids. One of the primary objectives for the act has been to combat “cheating” in sports although it has been largely ineffective for this purpose. Instead, the federal government has had some recent success using perjury laws to prosecute athletes who use steroids. Maybe sports fraud prosecutions will join perjury as an additional way of making examples out of “immoral” athletes.

Federal Government's Role in Enforcing Rules in Sporting Events

The press appears to be upset with Floyd Landis for defending himself and forcing USADA to waste taxpayer funds (“Landis Case Costs US Taxpayers,” March 15).

The 2006 Tour de France winner, who was stripped of his victory last year, seeks to have his title restored by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It’s the final step in a series of appeals that have cost upward of $2 million, a good portion of which has been paid for with federal funds…

But it will still be costly, and a good chunk of the cost will be footed by USADA, which gets about 70 percent of its $12 million annual budget from the federal government, and the rest from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Some newspapers, like the Akron Beacon Journal, have redistributed the aforementioned Associated Press news article only to change the title and imply that U.S. taxpayers are also paying for Floyd Landis’ defense [Read more…]

German Broadcaster Apologizes for Implicating Athletes in Doping Scandal

The Humanplasma Lab in Vienna, Austria has been under investigation for allegations of performing illegal blood transfusions for athletes. No athletes were initially named until the German television station ARD linked 30 athletes as clients of Humanplasma Lab including Tour de France riders Michael Rasmussen (Denmark), Michael Boogerd (Netherlands), and Denis Menchov (Russia) as well as several other cyclists, biathletes and cross-country skiers, two-thirds of which were German athletes. [Read more…]