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Laurent Rebours/AP
Riccardo Ricco (seen here) is the third
cyclist who tested positive for the use
of EPO in this Tour de France. (AP)

Tour de France Again Marred by Doping

July 22, 2008 05:59 AM
by Denis Cummings
With Riccardo Ricco becoming the third rider to test positive for a banned drug, the Tour de France has once again become overshadowed by illegal drug use.

30-Second Summary

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Ricco had won two stages of the race and was by far the biggest name to be caught using the performance-enhancing drug EPO. He was immediately ejected from the race and suspended, and his team chose to drop out of the race.

His ejection is the latest in a long line of doping scandals in the Tour de France, particularly in the past three years. The 2006 winner, Floyd Landis, was stripped of his championship and 2007 race leader Michael Rasmussen was fired from his team under suspicion of drug use with just four stages to go.

Cyclists in Tour de France have been using performance-enhancing drugs since it began in 1903, reports NBC Sports. The grueling demands of the race make it almost necessary for cyclists to use drugs.

No dope, no hope,” says German journalist Hans Halter. “The Tour, in fact, is only possible because—not despite the fact—there is doping.”

For much of the race’s history, authorities have looked the other way. This changed in 1998, when a team official was caught with PEDs. Authorities began raiding hotel rooms and conduct random drug testing, tactics that have become a hallmark of the tour.

The prevalence of PED use has damaged the credibility of all riders and caused fans to question the integrity of the race over the years. Sponsors are pulling out and riders’ salaries have decreased as much as one third compared to last year.

Headline Link: Ricco tests positive for a PED

Historical Context: Doping in the Tour de France

Opinion & Analysis: The doping problem

How does it affect the race?
Why do riders continue to use drugs?
How can it be fixed?
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