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Colom tests positive for EPO, banned

SPANISH cyclist Antonio Colom has tested positive for the blood-booster erythropoietin after being targeted by cycling's governing body using its biological passport program.

The 31-year-old Colom had an out-of-competition test on April 2, the International Cycling Union said Tuesday. "This adverse finding is a direct result of a targeted test conducted on (Colom) using information in his blood profile and knowledge of his upcoming race schedule," the UCI said in a statement.

The UCI said it told Colom on Monday that he would be suspended. He had been scheduled to start on Saturday for Team Katusha in the eight-day Tour of Switzerland, a warm-up race for the Tour de France.

He is suspended until the Spanish cycling federation holds a disciplinary hearing.

The Spaniard's suspension is a sign that the UCI is gaining confidence to use its pioneering passport program in the fight against doping.

The 5.2-million euro (US$6.8 million) pilot project has been used to monitor more than 850 professional riders since it was created with the World Anti-Doping Agency and launched in January 2008.

Each rider has given a series of blood and urine samples, which helped to create an individual body chemistry profile using analysis designed by a WADA-accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Suspected doping offenses are then spotted in fluctuations from the athlete's known baseline levels - in effect, searching for evidence of doping rather than specific substances.


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