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Wednesday, August 12, 1998 Published at 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK

World: Europe

Seven Italian cyclists barred from Tour of Portugal

Three more Italian cyclists have been banned from the Tour of Portugal after failing surprise blood tests.

The three Gilberto Simoni, Andrea Dolci and Massimo Apollonio were found to have an abnormally high red blood cell count.

Correspondents say such a condition may indicate the use of the performance-enhancing drug, EPO.

Yesterday, four other Italians were excluded from the race for failing identical tests.

This year's Tour de France was marred by a number of drug scandals.

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