Pantani, Ullrich come under the scanner

The top two in the 1998 Tour de France - Italian Marco Pantani and Germany's Jan Ullrich - were taking the banned blood booster EPO, a French Senate inquiry into sports doping said on Wednesday.

The medical stubs enclosed in the 918-page report, when compared against a separate list of test results, also reveal that American Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO in 1999. 

Just three days after the end of the 100th Tour, an event that was dogged by persistent speculation about doping, the 21-member parliamentary group said a "truth and reconciliation" commission should be created to lift the veil of silence on illegal practices.

The group recommended that the French government finance studies about the extent of doping, its risks and the range of drugs used.

"We cannot properly fight something that we don't understand," parliamentarian Jean-Jacques Lozach, the group's spokesman, told journalists. "Speaking of doping doesn't harm sport but instead contributes in the medium and long term to restore its greatness. Not speaking about it often means not doing anything,’’ he added.

Armstrong, the popular face of professional cycling who beat cancer to win the Tour seven times, was stripped of his titles after a sophisticated doping program was uncovered in October by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

He later admitted having taken performance-enhancing drugs.
The list of athletes who tested positive for EPO during the 1998 Tour included Ullrich and Pantani, who died of a drug overdose in 2004, according to data published in the document. Ullrich admitted in June he underwent blood doping procedures and was banned in 2012 for two years for a doping offence.

In October Bobby Julich, who finished third in the 1998 Tour, admitted to taking EPO from 1996 until that race, when his wife found out about his EPO habit. 

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