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Cardoso's positive EPO result: Will we ever see a Tour free from the suspicion of doping?

Joseph Delves
28 Jun 2017

With Trek-Segafredo's André Cardoso out of the Tour de France, and two riders ejected from the Giro, cycling still has some way to go

André Cardoso has been dropped from the Trek-Segafredo’s team just days before the start of the 2017 Tour de France after being notified of an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for the blood booster EPO.

The incident is similar to the one which saw Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni of Bardiani-CSF ejected from the Giro d’Italia on the eve of the race start in Sardinia last month.

However, while the Trek-Segafredo team is now serving a 30-day suspension handed down by the UCI, the team are likely to escape further sanction. That’s because in accordance with UCI rule 7.21.1, sanctions only applied to the whole team if two or more riders are caught using banned substances.

Cardoso has requested the testing of his B-sample. In a statement he said, ’I have always conducted myself as a clean athlete.

’I realise that this news puts a dark cloud on not just myself but also on our sport and my team, teammates and staff... I am fully aware that I will be presumed to be guilty, but it’s important to me to say that I am devastated by this news and I wanted to state that I have never taken any illegal substances.’

The UCI released a brief statement confirming the Adverse Analytical Finding for Erythropoietin in a sample collected during an out-of-competition control on 18th June.

'Deeply disappointed'

As a result the rider’s Trek-Segafredo team immediately suspended the rider. The team said it was ’deeply disappointed’.  

The Portuguese climbing specialist had been due to support team leader Alberto Contador in the mountains. Basque veteran Haimar Zubeldia will now stand in for the rider. At 40 years old he’ll be oldest rider competing.

While the result will need to be confirmed by the testing of Cardoso's second sample before further action can be taken, the timing can’t help but cast a shadow over the upcoming Tour.

In recent years the sport of cycling has made serious efforts to clean up and repair its image. With 198 riders competing in the Tour de France, it’s hard to imagine that such a rigorous schedule of testing wouldn’t throw up at least some positive results if applied to another sport.

Still, as long as riders continue to return adverse findings from drugs tests, regardless of how few, questions will continue to be asked over whether the system of testing as actually working, or whether these positives are indicative of wider, and undetected, drug use in the sport.

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