Four cyclists fail tests


Four Italian members of the Mobilvetta cycling squad were disqualified from the Tour of Portugal yesterday after failing blood tests. Paolo Alberati, Graziano Recinella, Mario Monzoni and Renzo Tagnetti were among 32 racers picked at random for a blood test just before setting off on the second leg of the tour.

They failed the test because their hematocrit level - the proportion of red blood cells to the total volume of blood - was above 50 per cent, considered a health risk.

The 1,350-mile race began in the southern Spanish city of Seville on Monday, is due to cross the border into Portugal on the third leg and finish in Lisbon on August 23rd. A squad from Festina are among the 18 taking part in the tour. Festina was at the heart of the doping scandal that marred the Tour de France.

Meanwhile, one of Spain's leading cycling teams, which withdrew from this year's Tour de France following the huge drugs controversy, threatened yesterday to boycott the race in future. The ONCE team said it would only take part in the Tour if riders were allowed to get on with their work without interference from the authorities.