Tour_De_France_steroidsTour de France 2008 is described as a doping-scarred race and considering that four riders have been found out to be using steroids that description is no surprise. Kazakhstan’s Dmitri Fofonov was tested positive for a banned substance on his final day of the Tour.

The 31-year-old Fofonov’s now belongs to the infamous roster of those who commit the mortal sin (read: performance-enhancing drug use) of professional sports. He was tested positive for the drug heptaminol after the 18th stage on Thursday. A “very high dose” apparently is what gave away Fofonov. His flimsy excuse of taking the drug to fight cramps was not accepted by his team Credit Agricole – he was given the high kick out.

According to the head of France’s anti-doping agency, Fofonov was arrested at team’s hotel and was later held for questioning. We wonder if he asked for his heptaminol when he suffered cramps sitting on some French interrogation room.

In an ABC News news report, Legeay offered basically the same castigatory statements:

“He has failed to respect our basic team rules,” Credit Agricole manager Roger Legeay said.
“No products can be taken by any riders unless they have prior authorisation from the team doctor.

“He has made a mistake, which can happen, but it’s not good news for us or for him.”

Fofonov is the fourth rider from the Tour to have tested positive for a banned substance.
Italian Riccardo Ricco, and Spanish duo Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas all tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) and were thrown out of the race.

The 31-year-old Fofonov, from Almaty, turned professional in 1998. Since 2000 he has competed with only French teams, picking up just three wins: the national time trial title (2000), a stage on the Tour of Catalonia (2002) and a stage on the Dauphine Libere earlier this year.

If there’s anything positive that has come out of this – other than the doping test, of course – is that Fofonov now is one of the most recognizable names in pro cycling (he even merited a space in Wikipedia). Maybe even overshadowing Spaniard rider Carlos Sastre who wore the symbolic yellow jersey at the conclusion of the Tour.