Maybe not too unbelievable, but disappointing none the less: Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco of Team Saunier Duval tested positive for synthetic EPO and CERA before the start of today's 12th Stage of the Tour de France. Saunier Duval has pulled out of the Tour de France.
Before he was pulled from the race this morning, Ricco was in the top 10 of the GC and points and led in the mountains. His team, Saunier Duval - Scott, was in third place when Stage 11 concluded yesterday.
As I write this, Stage 12 is almost concluded in Narbonne. Watch Velo.kwc.org for complete updates.
EPO is a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. Continuous erythropoiesis receptor activator (CERA) is a new drug still undergoing FDA review that's used to enhance the effect of EPO on red blood cell production.
Trust But Verify plenty of commentary on how this story is breaking. The comments there at TBV are interesting, too. Among the tidbits there:
The disappointment is indescribably immense because of this new betrayal. Here on Sui Pedali I always focus on the sport of cycling and don't emphasize the problem of doping. We don't do this because of disinterest or because I'm convinced the problem doesn't exist, but because there are so many other beautiful stories to tell. Faced with this case, however, I cannot remain vague or leave this as a footnote of another article.
"MA: Well, you see synthetic EPO in urine in the form of bars on an electrophoregram. If a rider's taken Micera, the bars are located in a different place to those you see in a sample containing synthetic EPO."
There may not be a simple "test" for CERA, but the expert himself indicates that it is recognizable if you're looking for it. If it was used in the Giro as indicated they are probable checking all the samples for it specifically now.