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Doping test for Tour de France fast-tracked

The International Cycling Union (ICU) says it's ready to risk using a new doping test to detect the banned hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, at this year's Tour de France.

The ICU president, Hein Verbruggen, and the Tour director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, said they were willing to cut corners to be ready in time for cycling's showcase race, which begins on July 1.

The two men made the announcement after a meeting in Geneva. They said the urine test to detect the presence of EPO was being fast-tracked through a validation process, which they admitted was not as rigorous as the criteria used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"We are ready to accept a certain risk," said Verbruggen. "The IOC is asking for higher standards, but we are willing to ask for less if we can have it ready before June 20, " he added.

The IOC's procedures for scientific validation include publication in a highly-respected journal, an independent peer review and approval by legal experts. The UCI said its criteria were similar but less stringent.

Verbruggen said that the tests would not be used if the validation process did not give the hoped for results, or if the three experts assigned by the IOC did not agree to their use.

Earlier this year, the UCI introduced the world's first medical monitoring procedure for all professional riders aimed at countering the problem of performance-enhancing drugs which cannot be detected in doping tests, such as EPO.

swissinfo with agencies

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