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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Three Tour riders excluded
Three cyclists have been excluded from the starting line of the Tour de France for failing blood tests.
The trio - Italian rider Rossano Brasi, Russian Serguei Ivanov and Slovenian Andrej Hauptman - all had red blood cell levels above the permitted 50% level.
The results do not necessarily mean they have been found guilty of taking the blood-boosting drug EPO, for which there is no test approved by sports governing bodies.
The health checks carried out by the UCI governing body are intended to prevent abuse of the substance, although similar results can be obtained using altitude training.
Until recently there has been no specific test for EPO. A method developed by a French laboratory was rejected by UCI scientists last week, although urine samples taken during the Tour will be frozen for use when the test is approved.
The failed trio will not be allowed to race for two weeks, and all have links with riders or teams who have fallen foul of the Tour's hardline stance in the past two years.
Ivanov is the biggest name and rides for the Dutch Farm Frites team.
The team used to be known as TVM, and was thrown off the Tour in 1998 and then refused entry last year due to the Tour organisation's perception of its attitude on doping.
Hauptman rides for Vini Caldirola, an Italian squad which was also stopped from racing last year.
Brasi is a team-mate of Richard Virenque, the controversial Frenchman who was a member of the Festina team.
This squad was also thrown off the 1998 event after EPO was discovered in a team car, although Virenque has consistently maintained his innocence.
The five-times King of the Mountains was himself initially excluded from the 1999 Tour but allowed to race after an appeal to the UCI.
Apology and explanation
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.
Polti general manager Gianluigi Stanga has apologised to the organisers for the incident.
The tests cast a shadow over the event but are hardly a surprise. The Societe de Tour de France have taken a hardline stance ever since the 1998 controversy.
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 at 1415 GMT on Saturday.
Cycling also has more drug tests than any other sport and its attitude to EPO is in direct contrast to many other events such as athletics and swimming, which have no comparative blood tests.
Meanwhile the Tour organisation has confirmed the 180 riders for this year's race.
As always the defending champion wears number one - in this case the Texan Lance Armstrong, who won last year.
Other team leaders to watch out for are 1999 runner-up Alex Zulle, who wears 11 and the third-placed finisher from last year Fernando Escartin - number 21.
Frenchman Laurent Jalabert wears 51 - the number which has produced the winner on more occasions than any other.
1. Lance Armstrong (USA), 2. Frankie Andreu (USA), 3. Viacheslav Ekimov (Rus), 4. Tyler Hamilton (USA), 5. George Hincapie (USA), 6. Benoit Joachim (Lux), 7. Steffen Kjargaard (Nor), 8. Kevin Livingston (USA), 9. Cedric Vasseur (Fra)
11. Alex Zulle (Swi), 12. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa), 13. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), 14. Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa), 15. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa), 16. Francisco Mancebo (Spa), 17. Jon Odriozola (Spa), 18. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita), 19. Orlando Rodrigues (Por)
21. Fernando Escartin (Spa), 22. Santiago Botero (Col), 23. Carlos Contreras (Col), 24. Roberto Heras (Spa), 25. Francisco Leon (Spa), 26. Javier Ochoa (Spa), 27. Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa), 28. Antonio Tauler (Spa), 29. Jose Angel Vidal (Spa)
31. Michele Bartoli (Ita), 32. Manuel Beltran (Spa), 33. Paolo Bettini (Ita), 34. Chann McRae (USA), 35. Daniele Nardello (Ita), 36. Fred Rodriguez (USA), 37. Tom Steels (Bel), 38. Max van Heeswijk (Ned), 39. Stefano Zanini (Ita)
41. Michael Boogerd (Ned), 42. Jan Boven (Ned), 43. Erik Dekker (Ned), 44. Maarten Den Bakker (Ned), 45. Marc Lotz (Ned), 46. Grischa Niermann (Ger), 47. Leon van Bon (Ned), 48. Marc Wauters (Bel), 49. Markus Zberg (Swi)
51. Laurent Jalabert (Fra), 52. David Canada (Spa), 53. David Etxebarria (Spa), 54. Ivan Gutierrez (Spa), 55. Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), 56. Peter Luttenberger (Aut), 57. Abraham Olano (Spa), 58. Miguel Angel Pena (Spa), 59. Marcos Serrano (Spa)
61. Jan Ullrich (Ger), 62. Udo Bolts (Ger), 63. Alberto Elli (Ita), 64. Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita), 65. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita), 66. Jens Heppner (Ger), 67. Alexandre Vinokurov (Kaz), 68. Steffen Wesemann (Ger), 69. Erik Zabel (Ger)
71. Marco Pantani (Ita), 72. Simone Borgheresi (Ita), 73. Ermanno Brignoli (Ita), 74. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita), 75. Riccardo Forconi (Ita), 76. Massimo Podenzana (Ita), 77. Marcello Siboni (Ita), 78. Marco Velo (Ita), 79. Enrico Zaina (Ita)
81. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), 82. Christophe Agnolutto (Fra), 83. Lauri Aus (Est), 84. Pascal Chanteur (Fra), 85. David Delrieu (Fra), 86. Arturas Kasputis (Lit), 87. Andrei Kivilev (Kaz), 88. Gilles Maignan (Fra), 89. Benoit Salmon (Fra)
91. Laurent Dufaux (Swi), 92. Daniel Atienza (Spa), 93. Salvatore Commesso (Ita), 94. Armin Meier (Swi), 95. Massimiliano Mori (Ita), 96. Pavel Padrnos (Cze), 97. Dario Pieri (Ita), 98. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), 99. Mario Scirea (Ita)
101. Christophe Moreau (Fra), 102. Joseba Beloki (Spa), 103. Angel Casero (Spa), 104. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa), 105. Jaime Hernandez (Spa), 106. Pascal Lino (Fra), 107. Laurent Madouas (Fra), 108. David Plaza (Spa), 109. Marcel Wust (Ger)
112. Andreas Klier (Ger), 113. Servais
Knaven (Ned), 114. Jans Koerts (Ned), 115. Michel Lafis (Swe), 116.
Glenn Magnusson (Swe), 117. Robbie McEwen (Aus), 118. Koos
Moerenhout (Ned), 119. Geert Van Bondt (Bel)
121. Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel), 122. Laurent Desbiens (Fra), 123. Laurent Lefevre (Fra), 124. Massimiliano Lelli (Ita), 125. Nico Mattan (Bel), 126. Roland Meier (Swi), 127. David Millar (Gbr), 128. David Moncoutie (Fra), 129. Chris Peers (Bel)
131. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), 132. Mario Aerts (Bel), 133. Serge Baguet (Bel), 134. Sebastien Demarbaix (Bel), 135. Jacky Durand (Fra), 136. Thierry Marichal (Bel), 137. Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel), 138. Paul Van Hyfte (Bel), 139. Geert Verheyen (Bel)
La Francaise des Jeux
141. Stephane Heulot (Fra), 142. Frederic Guesdon (Fra), 143. Gregory Gwiazdowski (Pol), 144. Frank Hoj (Den), 145. Xavier Jan (Fra), 146. Emmanuel Magnien (Fra), 147. Christophe Mengin (Fra), 148. Sven Montgomery (Swi), 149. Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra)
151. Richard Virenque (Fra), 152. Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned), 154. Enrico Cassani (Ita), 155. Mirco Crepaldi
(Ita), 156. Pascal Herve (Fra), 157. Rafael Mateos (Spa), 158. Fabio
Sacchi (Ita), 159. Bart Voskamp (Ned)
161. Bo Hamburger (Den), 162. Michael Blaudzun (Den), 163. Tristan Hoffman (Ned), 164. Allan Johansen (Den), 165. Nicolay Bo Larsen (Den), 166. Arvis Piziks (Lat), 167. Martin Rittsel (Swe), 168. Michael Sandstod (Den), 169. Jesper Skibby (Den)
171. Bobby Julich (USA), 172. Magnus Backstedt (Swe), 173. Fabrice Gougot (Fra), 174. Sebastien Hinault (Fra), 175. Anthony Langella (Fra), 176. Anthony Morin (Fra), 177. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), 178. Jonathan Vaughters (USA), 179. Jens Voigt (Ger)
181. Romans Vainsteins (Lat), 182. Massimo Apollonio (Ita), 183.
Gianluca Bortolami (Ita), 184. Filippo Casagrande (Ita), 185.
Roberto Conti (Ita), , 187. Zoran
Klemencic (Slo), 188. Mauro Radaelli (Ita), 189. Guido Trentin
191. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra), 192. Walter Beneteau (Fra), 193. Franck Bouyer (Fra), 194. Pascal Derame (Fra), 195. Christophe Faudot (Fra), 196. Damien Nazon (Fra), 197. Olivier Perraudeau (Fra), 198. Didier Rous (Fra), 199. Francois Simon (Fra)
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