The first tests for tramadol, a painkiller which will be banned in cycling from March 1, will be carried out at the Paris-Nice race, the UCI, the sport’s governing body sport, announced on Tuesday.
The drug is not banned by world anti-doping agency WADA, but has been on its watch list since 2012.
The UCI said in a press release on January 15 that: “4.4% of in-competition tests on cyclists showed the use of tramadol.”
“The ban is aimed at preserving the rider’s health and safety,” said the statement.
“Tramadol,” the UCI said, “can have two types of side-effect: nausea, drowsiness and loss of concentration (increasing the risk of race crashes), and gradual dependence on the substance with a risk of developing an addiction.”
Paris-Nice is the first stage race on the World Tour calendar.
The tests will be conducted in competition and will be based on blood droplets taken from riders’ fingertips.
“We held two seminars last year with the team doctors,” said Xavier Bigard, the UCI’s medical director. “They believe that we are in an emergency situation and that we must regulate, in others words prohibit.”
A positive test will be punished with a fine and disqualification from the race. A second offence will lead to a five-month ban.