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Federal grand jury investigating Lance Armstrong to retest samples for evidence of blood doping?

US press says test for plasticizers reportedly used in Contador case could be applied to Texan

An American newspaper is speculating that the federal grand jury currently investigating doping allegations surrounding seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong may call for blood and urine samples taken from the Texan to be retested for traces of plasticizers, which in turn might provide evidence of illegal blood transfusions.

The existence of tests that can detect plasticizers used in blood bags has been in the news in recent days following Alberto Contador’s failed test for clenbuterol during this year’s Tour de France, with media sources in Germany and France suggesting that traces of plasticizers were also found in his urine. Yesterday, The New York Times claimed that those were found in a different sample to the one that has tested positive for clenbuterol.

Armstrong has strenuously denied allegations first made in May this year by former US Postal Service team mate Floyd Landis that blood doping was endemic within the team when the pair rode together between 2002 and 2004, and the New York Daily News now reports that the recently developed test for plasticizers may help settle which of the two is lying.

The newspaper adds that anti-doping experts believe that the test, which is not yet validated for use in instituting disciplinary proceedings but which could provide evidence to support other findings of drug abuse, would be able to find traces of plasticizers in samples irrespective of when they were taken.

"Nothing that I've seen suggests that (the metabolites) would break down during frozen storage," an anti-doping expert familiar with the new test told the newspaper. "I can't see any reason why they would break down. They're not a biological molecule, like EPO or testosterone, they're a completely stable,
synthetic molecule."

According to the newspaper, the federal grand jury conducting the investigation into Armstrong would require no more than a subpoena to obtain past samples provided by the cyclist to the US Anti-Doping agency, while those taken by overseas testers could be secured through a legal process known as “letters rogatory.”

Regarding the prospect of the samples being retested, Armstrong’s spokesman Mark Fabiani told the newspaper that “We have no concerns at all about it."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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