Tour_De_France_steroidsThis 2008 Tour de France’s riders might have crossed the finished lines several weeks ago, but it looks like the rigors of the race is not yet over. The rigors of Tour de France drug screening, that is.

Retroactive testing for the new generation blood booster CERA, or Continuous Erythopoiesis Receptor Activator, is now being carried out by French laboratories. So far, two riders were caught using the banned compound since the retroactive testing was implemented. It was announced on Monday that Italy’s Leonardo Piepoli and Germany’s Stefan Schumacher both tested positive for CERA.  And race officials are expecting more positive tests in the coming weeks.

“The tests are still underway, they are not all done yet,” French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) head Pierre Bordry told Reuters on Wednesday.

“I imagine there could be one or two more cases,” race director Christian Prudhomme added, in a week when two Tour riders were exposed as drugs cheats.

Italian rider Riccardo Ricco was suspected of taking CERA when the race was still underway in July and was subsequently sent home. Spanish riders Manuel Beltran and Moises Dueňas, tested positive for EPO, and were also sent packing.

Why the late screening?

“People in the street ask me: ‘How did that come out so late?”‘ Prudhomme said. “In July, the process wasn’t legitimate at the time … These tests are of a new type.”

There are two labs which are currently testing the samples from all of the riders who competed in this year’s race.

The Chatenay-Malabry laboratory, which has developed a more effective blood test to find this EPO variant, and a WADA-approved Lausanne facility are testing blood samples. CERA is difficult to detect through urine samples.

“We are testing samples from July 3, 4 and 15,” Bordry said, adding there was no room for error.

“They are all tested by the Chatenay-Malabry lab, which is the official AFLD lab, but also in Lausanne, as a guarantee.”