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Three riders banned before Tour starts

Dark clouds gathered ominously over Futuroscope today, coinciding with the announcement that three riders had been thrown off the Tour de France after failing early morning blood tests.

The news of the sad trio’s ignominious demise has summoned up dark demons from 1998 and casts fresh doubts over the credibility of the Tour de France.

The Russian Sergeui Ivanov (Farm Frites), Italy’s Rossano Brasi (Polti) and the Slovenian rider Andrej Hauptman (Vini Caldirola) were deemed unfit to start the race following high blood levels.

The situation unfortunately has the sinister whiff of EPO usage and this may be confirmed with retrospective EPO tests likely to be introduced towards the end of the year.

The Director General of the Tour de France Organisation, Jean Marie Leblanc was quick to come out in defence of his race, at the same time sending out a warning to those stupid enough to be caught out:

“The fact that we have thrown three riders off the Tour this morning following high blood counts shows our detractors how determined we are to win the war against drugs.”

He vowed to do everything in his powers to punish those who failed tests, from a Tour de France perspective. This would mean that riders failing tests may be stripped of past honours, including stage wins, yellow jerseys etc- an almost Stalinist rewriting of the history books.

Polti were the only team involved in this latest scandal to release a statement. They accepted that their rider, Rossano Brasi, had been considered unfit to start the race. However, they were adamant that he had submitted himself, along with the rest of his Polti team-mates, to recent UCI tests on 19 June and again at the Tour of Switzerland. These tests were carried out without any problems. They offered their sincere apologies to the Tour organisers and said that they were waiting for Brasi to explain himself.

Farm Frites’ directeur sportif, Hendrik Redant did say this much when questioned about his rider, Sergeui Ivanov: “We did everything to avoid this happening and took all the necessary measures.” He said that he had spoken to Ivanov and told the Russian that he was very disappointed.

It is, however, a little too late to say “oops, sorry!” or “we did all we could” for this latest debacle at the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong railed only two days ago against what he called the “myth of doping” in the sport. Sadly, there was nothing mythical about this morning’s revelations. If we’re talking Greek here, then tragic would be closer to the mark.

The news of the sad trio’s ignominious demise has summoned up dark demons from 1998 and casts fresh doubts over the credibility of the Tour de France.

The Russian Sergeui Ivanov (Farm Frites), Italy’s Rossano Brasi (Polti) and the Slovenian rider Andrej Hauptman (Vini Caldirola) were deemed unfit to start the race following high blood levels.

The situation unfortunately has the sinister whiff of EPO usage and this may be confirmed with retrospective EPO tests likely to be introduced towards the end of the year.

The Director General of the Tour de France Organisation, Jean Marie Leblanc was quick to come out in defence of his race, at the same time sending out a warning to those stupid enough to be caught out:

“The fact that we have thrown three riders off the Tour this morning following high blood counts shows our detractors how determined we are to win the war against drugs.”

He vowed to do everything in his powers to punish those who failed tests, from a Tour de France perspective. This would mean that riders failing tests may be stripped of past honours, including stage wins, yellow jerseys etc- an almost Stalinist rewriting of the history books.

Polti were the only team involved in this latest scandal to release a statement. They accepted that their rider, Rossano Brasi, had been considered unfit to start the race. However, they were adamant that he had submitted himself, along with the rest of his Polti team-mates, to recent UCI tests on 19 June and again at the Tour of Switzerland. These tests were carried out without any problems. They offered their sincere apologies to the Tour organisers and said that they were waiting for Brasi to explain himself.

Farm Frites’ directeur sportif, Hendrik Redant did say this much when questioned about his rider, Sergeui Ivanov: “We did everything to avoid this happening and took all the necessary measures.” He said that he had spoken to Ivanov and told the Russian that he was very disappointed.

It is, however, a little too late to say “oops, sorry!” or “we did all we could” for this latest debacle at the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong railed only two days ago against what he called the “myth of doping” in the sport. Sadly, there was nothing mythical about this morning’s revelations. If we’re talking Greek here, then tragic would be closer to the mark.

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