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Monday, July 28, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tour de France | Team CSC rider Carlos Sastre wins doping-scarred race

The final act Sunday was supposed to be a champagne-sipping, idyllic trip to the Champs-Elysees for winner Carlos Sastre, a Spaniard who competes for Team CSC. Instead, there was yet another announcement of a positive drug test in the event.

The Associated Press

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Team CSC's Carlos Sastre of Spain rides past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday during the 21st ? and final ? stage of the Tour de France. Sastre won cycling's biggest event.

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CHRISTOPHE ENA / AP

Team CSC's Carlos Sastre of Spain rides past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday during the 21st — and final — stage of the Tour de France. Sastre won cycling's biggest event.

PARIS — From the start to the finish, doping was along for the ride in the Tour de France.

The final act Sunday was supposed to be a champagne-sipping, idyllic trip to the Champs-Elysees for winner Carlos Sastre, a Spaniard who competes for Team CSC. Instead, there was yet another announcement of a positive drug test in the event.

That the bust involved a rider who was never in contention didn't seem to matter. Once again, drugs left their mark at cycling's premier event.

Until the finale, the race had gone for 10 days without a doping scandal — three others had already marred the three-week event.

This time, 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. French police said Fofonov was detained for questioning.

"These guys are crazy, and the sooner they start learning, the better," said Pat McQuaid, International Cycling Union chief, by telephone. "You can never rule out at the Tour de France — the biggest event of the year — that these guys are going to take risks."

Sastre won in 87 hours, 52 minutes, 52 seconds. Silence-Lotto rider Cadel Evans of Australia, the runner-up, was 58 seconds behind.

The doping episode revealed on the final day gave the Tour a certain symmetry: Veteran rider Manuel Beltran tested positive after the first stage.

Bordry said Fofonov was asked whether he had a medical exemption for heptaminol, and he 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."

Fofonov, known mainly as a strong climber, finished in 19th place in the Tour, 28 minutes, 31 seconds after Sastre.

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Word of Fofonov's failed test came as some teams were riding farewell laps in Paris. The announcement compounded the damage of positive tests for the banned blood-booster EPO — cycling's designer drug — by Italy's Riccardo Ricco and Spaniards Beltran and Moises Duenas Nevado.

Ricco's Saunier Duval team quit the race and fired him, and the sponsor said it was ending its relationship with pro cycling. Barloworld, a South African conglomerate behind Duenas Nevado's team, said it would do so as well.

Some Tour officials seemed relieved to see cyclists suffer after each day's ride. It was as if that was a sign they hadn't relied on pick-me-ups to withstand the ordeal of a trek covering more than 2,175 miles.

Christian Prudhomme, the head of the Tour, said there were "a lot of good things" this year: "The faces of the riders, burnt out, exhausted, mouths wide open at the end. ... The fight against doping has made enormous progress."

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