Cycling: Drug test failure ‘silly mistake’ say AG2R

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French AG2R rider Sylvain Georges’ positive test at the Giro d’Italia occurred because he mistakenly took a performance-enhancing drug, team director Vincent Lavenu said yesterday.

Georges tested positive for the stimulant Heptaminol in a sample taken on 10 May, the International Cycling Union (UCI) had earlier said in a statement. “I just talked to him on the phone. He told me he had used a product because he had heavy legs, thinking it was harmless,” said Lavenu. “There was no intention to dope. But it’s a silly mistake that hurts him and the whole team.”

Georges pulled out of the Giro before yesterday’s stage 11 and will not ride again until the issue is settled, said Lavenu, whose team are part of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MCCC), which has a strong anti-doping stance. The 29-year-old Georges, who won a stage of the Tour of California last year, has not been given a provisional ban by the UCI because under the governing body’s anti-doping rules Heptaminol is a specified substance and can be used in certain circumstances.

The drug widens blood vessels and can be used in the treatment of low blood pressure. Georges has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample. “As far as I know, he has already done so,” Lavenu said.

Meanwhile, Ramunas Navardauskas broke free to win stage 11 of the Giro and give some cheer to his struggling Garmin-Sharp team.

The 25-year-old Lithuanian took advantage when a large breakaway group splintered towards the end of the 182km run from Tarvisio to Vajont, giving Garmin-Sharp reason to smile after their leader, defending champion Ryder Hesjedal, saw his challenge here effectively ended over the past few days.

Navardauskas finished 68 seconds ahead of BMC’s Daniel Oss with Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox’s Stefano Pirazzi, the King of the Mountains leader, coming home third, two minutes 59 seconds back. Team Sky’s Salvatore Puccio came home in fourth.

The peloton – featuring general classification leader Vincenzo Nibali and Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins – rolled over the line a little under six minutes behind Navardauskas. That meant no change at the top of the general standings, where Nibali leads Cadel Evans by 41 seconds with Wiggins fourth, two minutes five seconds behind.

This medium mountain stage was always going to favour a breakaway and, although it took longer than expected to establish itself, 20 riders eventually broke clear after 90 kilometres.

Patrick Gretsch was the first to make a solo break for victory but was caught by Navardauskas and Oss, with Navardauskas stepping up a gear in the last 5km to snatch the stage victory.