UCI toughen anti-doping programme for world champs

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PARIS, Sep 18 (Reuters) Blood samples taken during the world championshipslater this month will be stored in order conduct later tests for growth hormones, the International cycling union (UCI) said today.

''During the world championships, the UCI will carry out the following actions: ...storage of blood samples to be in a position to detect whether growth hormones have been taken when the test becomes available (probably at the end of the year),'' the UCI said in a statement.

The sport's governing body said it was toughening its measures against doping by increasing the number of tests by 25 percent during the championships in Stuttgart.

''At least 30 blood anti-doping controls (will be conducted) during the event, which is a new measure,'' the statement read.

Cycling has been rocked by doping scandals this year with Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen being dismissed from his Rabobank team and the race for lying about his whereabouts during training.

Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov, one of the peloton's leading figures, was also sent packing following a positive test for blood doping.

The UCI has also banned Spaniard Alejandro Valverde from entering the world championships and asked the Spanish federation (RFEC) to open an investigation on the Caisse d'Epargne rider's possible implication in Spain's Operation Puerto doping affair.

REUTERS SR BD2254

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