Spain's Sastre Wins First Tour de France
Sunday, July 27, 2008; 4:52 PM
PARIS -- Spain's Carlos Sastre won the Tour de France on Sunday, with cycling's showpiece event again unable to escape the shadow of doping. Minutes after the victory, it was announced a rider from Kazakhstan used a banned stimulant.
Dmitriy Fofonov tested positive for a "very heavy dose" of heptaminol after Thursday's 18th stage, said Pierre Bordry, the head of France's anti-doping agency. Fofonov was immediately fired by his Credit Agricole team.
A French police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, told The Associated Press that Fofonov was arrested at his team's hotel and held for questioning.
"These guys are crazy, and the sooner they start learning, the better," International Cycling Union chief Pat McQuaid said by phone. "You can never rule out at the Tour de France -- the biggest event of the year -- that these guys are going to take risks."
The doping bust was the fourth at this Tour, after three other riders tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO. News of Fofonov's failed test came while some teams were riding farewell laps on the Champs-Elysees.
"I am deeply crushed. I've been riding with him for four years," said Jimmy Engoulvent, a French teammate of Fofonov's. "We are professionals. Whether it's a stimulant or EPO, it's the same thing."
Bordry said the Kazakh rider was asked whether he had a medical exemption for heptaminol, and Fofonov did not provide one. The stimulant is used as a vasodilator that helps relieve bronchial spasms.
"Fofonov said he bought the product on the Internet," said Roger Legeay, sporting director of Credit Agricole. "He says that it was for cramps, but that he forgot to tell the team doctor."
Legeay confirmed Fofonov's dismissal and called his conduct a "grave error."
Fofonov, known mainly as a strong climber, finished in 19th place in the Tour, 28 minutes, 31 seconds after Sastre.
The three earlier riders who were busted were caught for using EPO in the first two weeks of the race: Italy's Riccardo Ricco and Spaniards Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas Nevado.
This is the third straight year a Spaniard captured the Tour. Alberto Contador won last year, and Oscar Pereiro inherited the 2006 title lost by American Floyd Landis in a doping scandal.