WADA Mourns Death of EPO Test Pioneer De Ceaurriz

PARIS, Jan 5, 2010 (AFP) – World Anti-Doping Agency chiefs offered their condolences Tuesday following the death of Jacques de Ceaurriz, a leading light in the fight against doping in sport.

The head of the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory near Paris, De Ceaurriz’s death at the age of 60 on Tuesday was announced by France’s national anti-doping agency, the AFLD.

Among his numerous scientific achievements De Ceaurriz notably helped pioneer in 2000 a test to detect the performance-boosting hormone EPO (erythyropoietin).

It proved a pivotal moment in the fight against doping, helping to snare many cheats across a range of sports and, almost as importantly, providing a major deterrent for would-be cheats.

“The fight against doping in sport has lost one of its most eminent scientists,” read a statement from WADA chief John Fahey.

“Jacques De Ceaurriz was not only a skilled researcher, but also a man willing to share his scientific knowledge with the anti-doping community to help advance the greater cause of the fight against doping in sport.”

A chemist by profession, De Ceaurriz worked as a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry and as a professor at a top Paris university before being appointed head of the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory in 1997.

It was during his time in charge that he helped snare many drugs cheats from the sports of tennis, athletics and cycling.

American Floyd Landis, the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, was stripped of his crown for testing positive for testosterone after samples taken during the race were tested at the Paris laboratory.

Landis, and his countryman Lance Armstrong – the winner of a record seven Tour de France yellow jerseys – was highly critical of the laboratory’s techniques and tried in vain to clear his name in court.

A year earlier in 2005 Armstrong hit out at De Ceaurriz’s lab which had, supposedly for research purposes, re-tested samples from the 1999 edition of the race.

It led to allegations by L’Equipe newspaper that several samples belonging to the American from the 1999 edition contained EPO, splashing the story on the front page only days after Armstrong’s record seventh Tour triumph.

Despite the attacks, De Ceaurriz always claimed he did not know the identity of the athletes whose samples he was testing.