The first results of blood tests to detect CERA in ten samples taken during this year?s Tour de France could be known on Friday, with other results some time next week, according to French newspaper L?Equipe.
The new tests are currently being carried in the Paris laboratory of the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD). L?Equipe claimed that the results of three blood tests will be known on Friday or at the latest on Monday, with the other seven results known by the end of next week.
According to L?Equipe, nine of the ten riders gave two blood samples, one before the start of the Tour de France in Brest and one on the first rest day in Toulouse. The other rider only gave one blood sample.
Rumours that 14 big-name riders from the Tour de France could test positive for CERA were rampant at the world championships in Varese but the number of riders under suspicion now appears to have fallen to 10. Names and teams have been circulating on internet forums and in some European newspapers but with testing still underway it is impossible to know which or any riders will be eventually announced as positive. However, the sport is bracing itself for the results with Gazzetta dello Sport describing the possible wave of big-name positive tests as a Tsunami waiting to hit the sport.
NEW BLOOD TEST TO DETECT CERA
Cycling Weekly understands the extra testing has become possible after a new blood test for CERA, the third generation form of EPO, was created and approved.
Like the urine test used to catch Riccardo Ricco, the test can detect tiny traces of the drug because the CERA molecule is very different to that of naturally produced EPO. Because CERA is also a slow release blood-boosting drug, it also has a longer half-life than EPO, meaning it can be detected in testing for much longer after assumption.
Pierre Bordry, the head of the French Anti-Doping Agency announced on September 17 to the Associated Press news agency that the blood samples would be returned to Paris from Lausanne for extra testing. Results were expected to emerge during the world championships but Bordry then said the testing had been delayed to ?surround the process with great scientific and legal security because it is a test that has never been used before.?
After long legal battles and disputes over other high-profile doping positives discovered by the Paris laboratory, it is clear Bordry wants to be absolutely sure of the testing procedure sure if there are big-names from this year?s Tour de France caught by the CERA blood tests.
Bordry declined to name the cyclists who had produced the suspicious samples but maliciously suggested that several riders who had pulled out of the world championships were struggling to sleep at night as they awaited the results of the Paris tests.
“I have decided that we will retest, with blood testing, all those who showed up as suspicious during the urine samples,” Bordry said told AP.
“When we did the urine samples of those athletes, we had a serious suspicion that there was CERA. The laboratory could not say definitively. The same analysis will be done, but on the blood samples.?
According to L?Equipe, any confirmed positives will be communicated to the anti-doping agency of the rider?s country, as was the case when Riccardo Ricco was announced as positive during the Tour de France.
Ricco may receive 20 month suspension