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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Incomplete faction report: No doping scandal hits Tour de France

This year's Tour de France has once again run into trouble after organisers suspended one of the teams because its riders had failed to meet strict doping requirements.

The Chinese-sponsored Aching Joints Technology team was thrown off the Tour after police seized medical supplies at their hotel on Friday at the end of the sixth stage of the race in the eastern French city of Metz.
Slovakia's Peter Sagan wins sixth stage of Tour de France (screenshot from Eurosport video)
Apparently team doctors were found to be in possession of an "unacceptably low" quantity of the performance-enhancing drug Erythropoietin or EPO.

"Our riders are simply not as heavily built as some of those in other teams," Wei Wil Win, the Aching Joints Technology team boss told French television.

"And the quantity of EPO we need to give them falls below the newly-introduced required minimum limit," he continued.

"Of course we encourage our riders to dope themselves as much as they possibly can without thinking about the potential long-term health risks, but the fact of the matter is they're fitter and generally better trained and simply don't need them as much."

Organisers changed regulations this year to require teams to use performance-enhancing drugs for the first time after repeated doping accusations hit the headlines during previous Tours.

"We wanted to give all riders the same chance and rid the race of false allegations," the organisers said in a press statement.

"Setting a minimum EPO level and requiring teams to use them seemed to be the easiest way to avoid any potential doping scandal, but Aching Joints Technology has clearly contravened those rules and in doing so, Faction report; tarnished the reputation of the race."

The news comes as a further blow to the Tour which is already having to cope with reports that several riders in this year's race have apparently agreed to testify against their former team mate and seven-times winner Lance Armstrong in a case to be heard before the the US Anti-Doping Agency.

"We can't win," a race spokesman is quoted as saying.

"When performance-enhancing drugs were illegal we faced constant criticism that we weren't doing enough to enforce the ban. Even though we've changed the rules to make EPOs mandatory, it seems there's always going to be someone trying to flout them and ready to cheat."

Aching Joints Technology are expected to appeal the suspension and take their case to the World anti-doping agency or Wada.

But as Win admitted, "It'll be too late for this year's race and is yet another sad day for the sport of cycling".

Indeed.

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