In an announcement that could throw mountain bike racing back into the scandalous dark ages of road racing,1996 World Champion and two-time Tour of the Rockies winner Jerome Chiotti of France recently admitted he used EPO to win his ?96 cross-country mountain bike World Championship. EPO is a drug that can artificially raise a person’s red-blood-cell count, increasing a racer’s endurance dramatically. The resultant thickening of the EPO user’s blood, can be so dangerous, however, that heart attacks and strokes can kill the users, typically young athletes in peak physical condition, without warning. Originating in the current issue of the French magazine ?Velo Vert,? the story is all over France today. The French Cycling Federation has said they will take disciplinary action against Chiotti, who won the title while riding for the French Peugeot team. Before that he was a road racer for the ill-fated Festina team, which was later kicked out of the Tour de France in 1998 for EPO violations. Chiotti rode for GT Bicycles from 1997 through ?99 and has been riding with Giant this year. Giant Bicycles will only confirm that the story is true. They are currently putting together an official statement, which will be released tomorrow. Check back as this story unfolds.
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