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:
- A comment from a drug expert who says there’s no test for CERA.
- ASO isn’t testing French team riders: “Of the Crédit Agricole riders, only stage winner Thor Hushovd was tested since the start of the race.”
- “L’Equipe…has become the ersatz source of doping announcements for the ASO.”
The comments about “il Cobra” coming out of Italian blogs are fascinating:
- L’onestà è una speculazione (saying of l’ex maglia gialla Kim Kirchen’s skepticism of Ricco): “Che smacco.”
- From a comment at the Italian Motor Sports blog: “As always when an Italian is likely to dominate in cycling come the doping allegations.”
- Oops, it looks like Ricco was on the Italian Olympic squad. His positive test puts his participation in question.
- Finally, Diego @ Sui Pedali expresses his extreme disappointment:
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.