Congress, steroids, baseballAthletes who use banned compounds like EPO and anabolic steroids should beware. Let what happened to cyclist Ricardo Ricco be a lesson.

The Italian cyclist, who has been a two-stage winner of Tour de France, was expelled from the race because of the newfangled anti-doping technology.    Ricco was ninth overall before he was evicted Thursday before the 12th stage. His team, Saunier Duval, subsequently quit the race, and Ricco and teammate Leonardo Piepoli were later fired. Piepoli has confessed of using the same third generation EPO, which Ricco has tested positive for.

Apparently, it’s not only on the war on terror that technologies have been stepped up but also on war against drugs –stealth modes are now being used to catch the enemies, so to speak. With this cunning detection method, we wonder who would be the next athletes to be smoked out of their juiced up haven.

The Sydney Morning Herald published this report July 24:

A MOLECULE was the undoing of Tour de France drug cheat Ricardo Ricco, World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey revealed yesterday.

Fahey said the war on drugs was stepping up, with WADA uniting with drug manufacturers to trap cheats. Italian rider Ricco, who had won stages six and nine of the Tour, tested positive for the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO). It’s believed Ricco thought there was no test for the red-cell booster he was using called Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator (CERA).

A molecule placed in the drug during its manufacture caught Ricco out last week, and Fahey said that more cheats would be sprung like this.
“I can’t tell you the details of how he was detected,” Fahey told ABC Radio. “[But] I can indicate the particular substance is called CERA … which is a perfectly legitimate substance to deal with anaemia.

“In the development of that particular substance close cooperation occurred between WADA and the pharmaceutical company Roche Pharmaceuticals so that there was a molecule placed in the substance well in advance that was always going to be able to be detected once a test was undertaken.”

The WADA chief is hopeful that more drug companies will advocate this new technology, ridding competitive sports of athletes who rely on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to win. The Beijing Games will also be the cleanest Olympics yet, he added, because of improved testing technology.

“The more co-operation the scientists can have with the drug companies in the detection of performance-enhancing drugs the greater the likelihood is they will be detected when tests are undertaken,” Fahey said.

“[But] I can give this guarantee – there’s a far greater likelihood that anybody cheating or attempting to cheat in the Beijing Games will be caught than in any other time of our history.”

However, there seems to be counterflow to this kind of technology. Ever heard of gene doping? It is defined by WADA – yup, the same organization Mr. Fahey leads – as “the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance.” Suffice it to say that gene doping offers a new frontier for athletes who want to foil detection.

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