Three cyclists have been excluded from the starting line of the Tour de France which gets underway here later Saturday after failing blood tests, officials confirmed.
Italian rider Rossano Brasi, Russian Serguei Ivanov, and Slovenian Andrej Hauptman, failed tests carried out by International Cycling Union (UCI) doctors and were declared ineligible for competition for a two week period.
Brasi, 28, rides for the Italian Polti team, Ivanov, 25, with Dutch group Farm Frites and Hauptman, 25, the Italian Vini Caldirola team.
Brasi was immediately suspended by his team pending an explanation from the rider. According to team sources, Brasi underwent two blood tests last week, each of which were clean.
Gianluigi Stanga, general manager of the Polti team which is lead by controversial French rider Richard Virenque, apologised to organisers for the incident.
Two years ago Virenque, a five time winner of the Tour de France King of the Mountains title, was ejected from the Tour de France following admissions of systematic drug abuse within his then team Festina.
The hematocrite level of every rider was tested before the first stage of the Tour de France, a 16.5km individual time-trial, which gets underway here at 1415 GMT Saturday – (AFP)
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