The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

June 27, 2013

TOUR DE FRANCE: 10 things to know about doping

(Continued)

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WHY ARE THERE STILL CASES? Because, as in other sports, there are still cheats and because, unlike some other sports, cycling actively hunts them. Tennis, American football and the NBA, to name just those few, do not test their athletes as much or as invasively as elite pro cycling. So are sports that rarely catch dopers cleaner or simply turning a blind eye?

"You only find what you look for," Tour director Christian Prudhomme noted in an interview. "Cycling is no longer the ugly duckling. It's not true."

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DO CYCLING TEAMS CARE? Yes, not least because repeated doping scandals scared off some sponsors and have generally prevented the sport from making as much money as it otherwise could.

But some teams care more than others. Of the 22 Tour teams, 14 have demonstrated extra commitment to anti-doping by joining the Movement for Credible Cycling. Its members commit to anti-doping measures more stringent than required by the WADA code. The group's name, in itself, speaks to cycling's uphill battle to restore faith in its athletes and administrators.

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HOW MIGHT RIDERS STILL BE DOPING? That partly depends on how much money they have and how sneaky their doctors are. Sophisticated and well-advised cheats are better at evading tests than dopey dopers muddling along with banned performance-enhancers by themselves. Small doses of commonly abused drugs flush out quickly from the body, meaning testers don't detect them unless they are lucky or smart enough to collect samples at just the right time. Small doses of EPO remain tough to detect. A small blood transfusion also could slip past undetected.

But some anti-doping experts believe such 'micro-doses' might not provide much of a performance boost.

"Micro-doses have potentially less effect," said Zorzoli. "Making the assumption that just taking micro-doses you will never be caught, I would not bet on that if I was an athlete."

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