Second Tour de France rider caught for doping
Italy's Cristian Moreni fails test for testosterone; led away by police after 16th stage
Doping remained a hot topic at the Tour de France for a second straight day Wednesday as Italian cyclist Cristian Moreni failed a test for testosterone.
Moreni was led away by police at the end of Wednesday's 16th stage, wonby overall leader Michael Rasmussen of Denmark.
"He accepted his wrongdoing and did not ask for a B sample," said Eric Boyer, manager of Moreni's Cofidis team.
Athletes who fail a doping test are entitled to ask for a follow-up B sample test to confirm — and in rare cases refute — the results of the initial A sample.
French daily newspaper L'Equipe said on its website that the latest incident resulted from a test conducted on the 11th stage of the tour on July 19.
The newspaper added that analysis conducted by the Chatenay-Malabry lab on the outskirts of Paris showed traces of testosterone found in the urine sample. The test showed that the testosterone was administered and that the hormone was not naturally occurring.
Moreni was in 54th place overall at the end of the 16th stage, one hour 56 minutes 11 seconds behind Rasmussen.
Team Astana pulled out of the 94th Tour de France on Tuesday after one of its riders, Alexandre Vinokourov, tested positive for a banned blood transfusion.
On Wednesday, dozens of Tour riders demonstrated their anger over repeateddoping scandals by not starting the 16th stage at the scheduled time.
The protest riders let race leader Michael Rasmussen, star sprinter Tom Boonen and others not involved ride away, but caught up with them farther down the road.
Many of the riders involved in the symbolic protest were from French teams that have long complained doping is ruining the sport.
L'Equipe also said the UCI, cycling's governing body, would announce the latest test result shortly.
Urine tests are conducted daily at the Tour on the stage winner, the race leader and other selected riders.
Stage 11, from Marseille to Montpellier in southern France, was won by sprinter Robert Hunter, a South African with the Barloworld team.
The race leader then — and now — was Rasmussen of Denmark, who is riding under a cloud of suspicion because he skipped doping tests before the three-week Tour began. The identities of the other riders tested that day were not immediately known.
L'Equipe reported on its website Tuesday that Vinokourov's positive test occurred after his victory in the 13th-stage time trial on Saturday.
The Kazakhstani rider insists he did not cheat, claiming Astana is being persecuted.
"I never doped, that's not the way I see my profession," Vinokourov told Wednesday's edition of L'Equipe. "I think it's a mistake in part due to my crash. I have spoken to the team doctors who had a hypothesis that there was an enormous amount of blood in my thighs, which could have led to my positive test."
With files from the Associated Press