Maria Isabel Moreno named Beijing Olympics first drug cheat.
August 12, 2008
CYCLING's future as an Olympic sport is in jeopardy after Spanish road rider Maria Isabel Moreno became the first athlete at the Beijing Games to test positive for drugs.
Moreno, 27, fled the Athletes' Village before the result of her drug test was known.
Moreno tested positive for performance-enhancing Erythropoietin (EPO). The drugs test was carried out on July 31 and she left Beijing later that day without offering an explanation.
Hot, humid conditions take toll on Olympic cyclists
Heavy smog continued to shroud the Olympic host city as competition got underway Saturday, and there was concern road cyclists would struggle mightily in the oppressive conditions as they raced 152.2 miles through a picturesque course that began near Tiananmen Square, wound past several famous landmarks, climbed into the foothills, and finished at the Great Wall.
They were the first athletes to face an outdoor endurance test at these Games, and the assumption was that if the average fan had trouble breathing and staying hydrated in the Chinese capital, surely cyclists exerting themselves over the longest course in Olympic history would be miserable afterward.
The race ended with seven loops through the hilly Juyongguan Pass, a picture-perfect region that houses the tombs of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors. Riders complained of "extreme" heat and humidity. American George Hincapie said, "I can count on one hand the number of races I've started to sweat before the race starts." German rider Gerald Michael Ciolek, who failed to finish, compared it to riding at high elevation "because you feel short of air."
Juan Jose Haedo of Argentina, who also pulled out early, said: "It feels like you have hot cream all over your body. Once you go full-gas, you cannot breathe."
Only 90 of 143 cyclists who started the race finished the 6-hour event.