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By Agence France Presse
Austria’s Bernhard Kohl will be the “seventh and last” positive doping case from this year’s Tour de France, according to sports daily L’Equipe on Tuesday.
Kohl, the best climber at this year’s race where he finished third overall, has become the fourth rider to test positive for CERA, a new generation of the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).
In all seven riders tested positive at this year’s race, which was won by Spaniard Carlos Sastre of the CSC team.
Italians Ricardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli and Germany’s Stefan Schumacher all tested positive for CERA, which until July was thought to be undetectable.
During the race Riccò, the winner of two climbing stages, was ejected, and his Saunier Duval team withdrew, after urine samples belonging to the Italian revealed traces of CERA.
Riccò’s positive followed Spanish duo Manuel Beltran, of Liquigas, and Barloworld rider Moises Duenas in leaving the race, both of whom tested positive for EPO.
On the race’s final day it was revealed that Dmitri Fofonov, a Kazakh who rides for Credit Agricole, tested positive for a banned stimulant. He has since been banned for three months.
It was later confirmed that Riccò’s teammate Piepoli, a climber who won the 10th stage to Hautacam in the Pyrenees, also tested positive for CERA. Last week Schumacher – Kohl’s team and roommate at Gerolsteiner – was also confirmed as having tested positive for CERA. The German won both time trials on the race.
On Monday Kohl was the latest rider to be snared for using EPO to oxygenate his blood cells, thus boosting his abilities to perform on the world’s toughest bike race.
Although it had been reported recently that France’s national anti-doping agency was set to reveal a deluge of positive tests, L’Equipe said Tuesday the Kohl positive case “is the seventh and last positive, according to our information.”
The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) was in charge of this year’s controls as the Tour was being held without a UCI sanction UCI because of a dispute, which has now been resolved.
The AFLD recently pioneered a new blood test for CERA, the latest generation of EPO, which has been in use in endurance sports since the early 1990s.