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PARIS (AFP) — The first tests for tramadol, a painkiller that will be banned in cycling starting March 1, will be carried out at Paris-Nice, the UCI announced Tuesday. This comes months after the agency reported potentially banning other substances that aid in pain relief, including the controversial plant kratom.
The drug is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but it has been on its watchlist since 2012.
The UCI said in a recent press release, “4.4 percent of in-competition tests on cyclists showed the use of tramadol. The ban is aimed at preserving the rider’s health and safety.
“Tramadol can have two types of side-effects: nausea, drowsiness and loss of concentration (increasing the risk of race crashes), and gradual dependence on the substance with a risk of developing an addiction.”
Paris-Nice is scheduled for March 10-17.
The tests will be conducted in competition and will be based on blood droplets taken from riders’ fingertips.
“We held two seminars last year with the team doctors,” said Xavier Bigard, the UCI’s medical director. “They believe that we are in an emergency situation and that we must regulate, in other words prohibit.”
A positive test will result in a fine and disqualification from the race. A second offense will lead to a five-month ban.