Silence-Lotto’s Thomas Dekker will miss the Tour de France after testing positive for the banned blood-booster EPO, his team announced on Wednesday.
The sample was originally taken on December 24, of 2007, when Dekker was a member of the Rabobank team. The sample was re-tested using new techniques, which resulted in a positive test for EPO.
“He found out on Wednesday morning that fresh analysis, carried out in May at the behest of WADA, on urine samples from a random doping control had turned up positive for EPO,” the team said in a statement.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code, drug testers have the option of storing and re-examining old samples, as long as there is a sufficient quantity to allow a follow-up – or B sample – test.
The WADA code provides for an eight-year statute of limitations on earlier doping violations.
Cycling’s international governing body, the UCI, said in a statement issued Wednesday that it had “instructed (Monaco’s) Cycling Federation, to which Mr Dekker is affiliated, to open disciplinary proceedings on this matter.”
“The UCI’s request is based on two elements of evidence collected within the biological passport programme: Mr Dekker’s haematological profile and a laboratory report indicating the detection of recombinant EPO in a urine sample.
“According to a panel of scientific experts, the haematological profile established from blood samples collected from Mr Dekker in 2008 and 2009 demonstrates convincing evidence of the use of the prohibited method of enhancement of oxygen transfer.”
It was that suspicion of blood doping that prompted the UCI to have new tests on Dekker’s 2007 urine sample.
The 24-year-old Dekker, who was slated to arrive in Monaco on Wednesday for Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour, will be replaced on the Silence-Lotto roster by British rider Charley Wigelius.
Team manager Marc Sergeant was quick to point out that the alleged violation did not occur while Dekker was a member of the Silence-Lotto team.
“I am sorry this happened, of course,” said Sergeant, “It’s important to remember that this occurred when he was a member of Rabobank, but it still doesn’t make the news any less disappointing.”
Oddly enough, Dekker’s move to Silence was in part prompted by the Rabobank team’s decision to leave him off of its Tour de France squad in 2008. The team cited “abnormal blood values” from that year’s Tour de Suisse as justification for its decision.
Dekker admitted two years ago that he had collaborated with the infamous Luigi Cecchini, an Italian physician who has been linked to allegations of doping.