Tour De France - Doping


Main article: Doping at the Tour de France See also: Festina affair, Floyd Landis doping case, and Doping at the 2007 Tour de France

Allegations of doping have plagued the Tour almost since 1903. Early riders consumed alcohol and used ether, to dull the pain. Over the years they began to increase performance and the Union Cycliste Internationale and governments enacted policies to combat the practice.

In 1924, Henri Pélissier and his brother Charles told the journalist Albert Londres they used strychnine, cocaine, chloroform, aspirin, "horse ointment" and other drugs. The story was published in Le Petit Parisien under the title Les Forçats de la Route ('The Convicts of the Road')

On 13 July 1967, British cyclist Tom Simpson died climbing Mont Ventoux after taking amphetamine. In 1998, the "Tour of Shame", Willy Voet, soigneur for the Festina team, was arrested with erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone and amphetamine. Police raided team hotels and found products in possession of the cycling team TVM. Riders went on strike. After mediation by director Jean-Marie Leblanc, police limited their tactics and riders continued. Some riders had abandoned and only 96 finished the race. It became clear in a trial that management and health officials of the Festina team had organised the doping.

Further measures were introduced by race organisers and the UCI, including more frequent testing and tests for blood doping (transfusions and EPO use). This would lead the UCI to becoming a particularly interested party in an International Olympic Committee initiative, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), created in 1999. In 2002, the wife of Raimondas Rumšas, third in the 2002 Tour de France, was arrested after EPO and anabolic steroids were found in her car. Rumšas, who had not failed a test, was not penalised. In 2004, Philippe Gaumont said doping was endemic to his Cofidis team. Fellow Cofidis rider David Millar confessed to EPO after his home was raided. In the same year, Jesus Manzano, a rider with the Kelme team, alleged he had been forced by his team to use banned substances.

Doping controversy has surrounded Lance Armstrong. In August 2005, one month after Armstrong's seventh consecutive victory, L'Équipe published documents it said showed Armstrong had used EPO in the 1999 race. At the same Tour, Armstrong's urine showed traces of a glucocorticosteroid hormone, although below the positive threshold. He said he had used skin cream containing triamcinolone to treat saddle sores. Armstrong said he had received permission from the UCI to use this cream.

The 2006 Tour had been plagued by the Operación Puerto doping case before it began, favourites such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso banned by their teams a day before the start. Seventeen riders were implicated. American rider Floyd Landis, who finished the Tour as holder of the overall lead, had tested positive for testosterone after he won stage 17, but this was not confirmed until some two weeks after the race finished. On 30 June 2008 Landis lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and Óscar Pereiro was named as winner.

On 24 May 2007, Erik Zabel admitted using EPO during the first week of the 1996 Tour, when he won the points classification. Following his plea that other cyclists admit to drugs, former winner Bjarne Riis admitted in Copenhagen on 25 May 2007 that he used EPO regularly from 1993 to 1998, including when he won the 1996 Tour. His admission meant the top three in 1996 were all linked to doping, two admitting cheating.

On 24 July 2007 Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for a blood transfusion (blood doping) after winning a time trial, prompting his Astana team to pull out and police to raid the team's hotel. The next day Cristian Moreni tested positive for testosterone. His Cofidis team pulled out.

The same day, leader Michael Rasmussen was removed for "violating internal team rules" by missing random tests on 9 May and 28 June. Rasmussen claimed to have been in Mexico. The Italian journalist Davide Cassani told Danish television he had seen Rasmussen in Italy. The alleged lying prompted his firing by Rabobank.

On 11 July 2008 Manuel Beltrán tested positive for EPO after the first stage.

On 17 July 2008, Riccardo Riccò tested positive for continuous erythropoiesis receptor activator, a variant of EPO, after the fourth stage.

In October 2008, it was revealed that Riccò's teammate and Stage 10 winner Leonardo Piepoli, as well as Stefan Schumacher – who won both time trials – and Bernhard Kohl – third on general classification and King of the Mountains – had tested positive.

After winning the 2010 Tour de France, it was announced that Alberto Contador had tested positive for low levels of clenbuterol on 21 July rest day. On 26 January 2011, the Spanish Cycling Federation proposed a 1-year ban, but reversed its ruling on 15 February and cleared Contador to race. Despite a pending appeal by the UCI, Contador finished 5th overall in the 2011 Tour de France, but in February 2012, Contador was suspended, and was stripped of his 2010 victory.

In October 2012 USADA released a report on doping by the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, implicating, amongst others, seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong. The report contained affidavits from riders including Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, and others describing wide spread use of Erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusion, testosterone, and other banned practices in several Tours. In October 2012 the UCI acted upon this report, formally stripping Armstrong of all titles since 1 August 1998, including all seven Tour victories, and announced that his Tour wins would not be reallocated to other riders.

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