In the wake of the first two positive tests for the blood-boosting drug FG-4592, the UCI has confirmed that the samples of riders who competed in the Tour de France will be screened for the substance.
Nicknamed oxygen in a pill, FG-4592 is an EPO-like medication which can be taken in tablet form. This differs from EPO, which needs to be injected and which also must be stored at a certain temperature.
It went through phase II clinical trials but in May 2007 this was temporarily suspended following the death of a trial participant due to fulminant hepatitis.
In early 2008 the blockage was lifted by the FDA. Earlier this year the companies behind it said they were working on phase III clinical trials.
To date two riders have tested positive for it. Earlier this week the UCI announced that the Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec rider Fabio Taborre had shown traces of it in a sample taken on June 16, one day prior to the Tour of Slovenia.
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Prior to that, Chilean rider Carlos Oyarzun was expelled from this month’s Pan American Games over a similar A sample.
Both riders can request a B sample analysis, and will face lengthy bans if the doping infraction is confirmed.
However they may not be the only ones: the fact that a test has been developed for the substance but not announced could catch other riders out. During the 2008 Tour de France, the laboratory analysing samples included a newly-developed test for the EPO-like substance CERA.
As a result of that several riders were nabbed, including the Italian Riccardo Ricco, the German Stefan Schumacher and the Austrian Bernhard Kohl.
The UCI confirmed to CyclingTips that the tests run will now be looking for this substance.
“Samples collected at the Tour will be tested for FG-4592, and it will also be done in upcoming races,” UCI spokesman Sébastien Gillot said.
There is no indication as yet as to when the final results for the Tour analyses will be announced.