Brandt is first rider to fail drug test

Updated: July 13, 2004, 3:49 PM ET
Associated Press

CHATEAUBRIANT, France -- Belgian cyclist Christophe Brandt is out of the Tour de France after failing a drug test.

Hendrik Redant, coach of Brandt's Italian team Lotto-Domo, said the cyclist was sent home Friday after testing positive for methadone, a drug used to help recovering heroin addicts.

Brandt was the first rider to fail a drug test at this year's Tour. He suggested that a laboratory error might be to blame and said he was awaiting results of a second test.

"I've had a dozen tests this year and they were all negative," the rider told Belgium's RTBF television.

"There are two possible explanations. Either it's a handling error at the laboratory ... or, well, we'll have to dig a little deeper and we'll do that after the follow-up test," he said.

He insisted that he would never have knowingly taken any product containing methadone.

One of Brandt's teammates was surprised.

"No one understands the situation," Rik Verbrugghe said. "This is not a product that improves performance.'

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press