27 year old Spanish rider Moises Duenas of Barloworld tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) during the fourth stage of the Tour de France, a 29.5 km time-trial at Cholet. Barloworld immediately withdrew him from the Tour before before Stage 11 in Lannemezan, the third and final day of climbing in the Pyrenees. A Barloworld spokesman confirmed that police had taken Duenas away for questioning, and said they had suspended the rider while they await the results of further tests. "Moises is at the police station with the team manager and the doctor. The team has suspended Moises while we wait for other information," said the spokesman before Wednesday's Stage 11. "Our team doctor is checking the riders every day, and so far there has been nothing suspicious from any of the riders." Duenas, in his third Tour participation, was in 19th place after the first ten stages, 6'43"behind Maillot Jaune Cadel Evans.
Duenas is the second rider to fail a doping test in this year's Tour de France after compatriot Manuel Beltran of Liquigas also tested positive for EPO during the first stage. The futures of both riders depends on the results of a second B sample which, if it confirms the first test, will lead to sacking of the riders by their teams. All tests at the Tour are being carried out by the French national anti-doping agency (AFLD) because the race is being held under the auspices of the French federation because of an ongoing conflict between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the company which owns the Tour, ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation). AFLD carried out approximately 60 random and targeted tests on French and foreign riders in the lead-up to the Tour from the 20 teams taking part in the race. In the two days prior to the start, the AFLD took blood samples from all 180 Tour riders.
It was from one of those samples that suspicion arose regarding Beltran. He was targeted for a urine test on the first stage, the result of which confirmed he had used EPO. AFLD chief Pierre Bordry said they had targeted Duenas deliberately for a urine test. "We had reason to look at him more closely," Bordry told AFP.
However, according to AFP sources, Duenas was not one of the reported 10-20 riders whose blood parameters had prompted the AFLD to suspect them of doping.
Frenchman Roger Legeay, who manages the Credit Agricole team, said it would ultimately prove the controls are working. "It's not great to hear that a rider has cheated, but that's what the tests are designed for. When you look, sometimes you find," he said before the start of Wednesday's 11th stage. "There's a real commitment from the teams and the (race) organisers to work with the anti-doping bodies, whether it's the AFLD or WADA (World Anti Doping Agency), and the researchers are progressing on the cheats all the time. "In cycling, we don't have the choice - we have to work along ethical lines and try to weed out the cheats. What are people going to think if, after we make promises to do our utmost to get rid of doping, we finish the race claiming that everyone is clean?"
After the positive test by Duenas, there was more bad news for Barloworld during Wednesday's 11th stage as they lost their third rider from the race when Italian Paolo Longo crashed during the stage from Lannemezan to Foix. According to official race radio Longo crashed near the 50km mark and sustained a fractured collarbone in the crash, which left him in a ditch at the side of the road. Barloworld are now down to six riders, having lost Colombian climber Mauricio Soler. the reigning Tour 'King of the Mountains', earlier
in the Tour.