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All Tour riders to be screened for EPO-like drug called 'oxygen in a pill'

Two riders have already tested positive for FG-4592

All riders in the Tour de France will now be screened for the blood-boosting drug FG-4592, the UCI has confirmed in the wake of two positive tests for the EPO-like substance.

FG-4592, unlike EPO, can be taken in a tablet rather than injected, and does not need refrigeration.

The UCI announced this week that Italian UCI Professional Continental team Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec will be suspended from racing for between 15 and 45 days after a second rider tested positive for a banned substance.

World cycling’s governing body announced today that the team’s 30-year-old rider Fabio Taborre had tested positive for FG-4592 in a sample collected during an out-of-competition test on 16 June 2015.

The news comes just four weeks after another rider from the team run by Gianni Savio, the former Team Sky sprinter Davide Appollonio, tested positive for EPO following an out-of-competition test on 14 June 2015.

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The substance, originally developed for use in patients with chronic kidney disease boosts the body’s ability to produce EPO.

Taborre has the right to request an analysis of his B sample and in the meantime has been provisionally suspended.

Under rules that came into force at the start of this year, a second positive test for riders on the same team inside a 12 month period result in a suspension ranging from 15 to 45 days for the team as a whole.

West London-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) became the first pharmaceutical business in the world to notify the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of a new drug under an agreement aimed at fighting doping in sport in 2013, when it developed the drug known as drug, known as FG-4592 or ‘oxygen in a pill’.

While a company spokesman said the agreement meant GSK was unable to identify specific compounds, the one notified to WADA is said to be a drug that enhances the production of red blood cells.

Currently, the market is dominated by US-based Amgen – coincidentally, sponsor of the Tour of California – although it has eased back from a peak in sales of $12 billion in 2006, te reduction partly explained by concerns over side-effects.

“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.

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