Cycling’s world governing body has denied a claim by one of the sport’s most notorious figures that riders tested positive for a banned substance at the 2008 Tour de France but were not sanctioned.
Riccardo Riccò, who is serving a 12-year doping ban after officials determined that a bad blood transfusion landed him in the hospital in early 2011, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that 48 riders had tested positive for EPO CERA at the 2008 Tour. The Italian, who was one of four riders to be snared in the new test for CERA that anti-doping officials rolled out at the Tour, questioned why more riders were not sanctioned. He served a two-year ban for his CERA offense and is currently barred from racing until 2024.
The UCI shot back on Tuesday, denying Riccò’s accusation in a press release.
“Riccò, Stefan Schumacher, Leonardo Piepoli, and Bernhard Kohl all returned positive tests at the 2008 Tour. But Riccò claimed on his Twitter account that more riders had tested positive,” the UCI said. “This unsubstantiated claim is totally untrue. In the 2008 Tour de France, the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) was solely responsible for carrying out all anti-doping testing. The UCI was not involved in the testing as the 2008 Tour de France was not on the UCI calendar but was organized as a national event.
“However, any adverse analytical finding from a test that was carried out during the 2008 Tour de France was reported by the lab directly to AFLD with a copy to UCI and WADA and was seen and reviewed by AFLD, UCI and WADA. It is simply not possible for a positive test to be covered up.”
The 2013 Tour de France starts Saturday, June 29 on the island of Corsica.