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Brandt is first rider to fail drug test

7/13/2004

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.'