The New York Times reports that 2007 Gyro de Italia champion Danilo Di Luco tested positive for CERA EPO during this year's race (surprise).
CERA EPO is Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA) as form of Erythropoietin (EPO). The kidney naturally produces the hormone EPO, which stimulates red blood cell proliferation. CERA is a larger molecule that is not eliminated by the kidneys as easily as 'regular' EPO, t his making it a longer acting up-regulator of RBC production.
The attraction of doping athletes for CERA appears to be the thought that a new molecule would slip through the detection process...doping control....giving the athlete a PED boost. Athletes will try to get by with cheating as long as they think the cheating is undetectable.
Di Luca, the runner-up at the Giro, is the leader of the LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini team, a squad that was not invited to participate in the Tour de France. At the Giro, Di Luca finished 41 seconds behind Denis Menchov.
The cycling union said it provisionally suspended Di Luca, 33, after a Paris laboratory found traces of CERA in his blood.
“These adverse findings were a direct result of a targeted test program conducted on Mr. Di Luca using information from his biological passports blood profile, previous test results and his race schedule,” the cycling union said.
Neither of Di Luca’s backup blood samples has been tested for traces of CERA, an anemia-fighting substance that is a new generation of the drug EPO, which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Both EPO and CERA stimulate bone marrow to produce more oxygen-carrying red blood cells, but CERA is longer lasting and requires fewer injections.
Antidoping rules say Di Luca has the right to have both samples retested in his presence or in the presence of a representative.
He will remain provisionally suspended until the Italian Cycling Federation holds a hearing to determine whether Di Luca had violated antidoping rules.
This year’s Tour, which ends Sunday in Paris, has not had any positive doping tests.