Cycling race didn't test for sponsor's product
Here's a strange story from the world of professional cycling. The Tour of California now admits that it didn't test for EPO in last year's race. The race's lead sponsor, biotech giant Amgen, happens to make genetically engineered EPO.
The company claims to be outraged by the omission:
And now, organizers of the Tour of California, who boasted after last year’s race that no riders tested positive for banned substances, have acknowledged that riders were not tested for what has become the sport’s most abused drug — the blood booster known as EPO.
That failure is more surprising because the lead sponsor of the Tour of California is Amgen, the California biotechnology company that produces the genetically engineered version of EPO, which is sold primarily to help cancer and dialysis patients battle anemia.
A spokeswoman at Amgen, which had marketed its sponsorship as a way to educate people against improper use of its drug, expressed outrage at the failure to test for it, saying that the company had been repeatedly assured last year that EPO testing was done.
The spokeswoman, Mary Klem, said that when Amgen executives were informed of the oversight, they were angry and surprised. “Our understanding going into the race was that the test would be included,” Klem said. “And we were told afterward that no rider tested positive for EPO or for any banned substances.” [NYT]
Regardless of whether the Amgen crew is telling the truth, the very idea of Amgen sponsoring a long-distance bike race should is one of the dumbest plans in the history of marketing.
Amgen makes the most abused substance in the sport. The abuse problem is not under control, and it's only a matter of time before someone tests positive for Amgen's product at the Amgen Tour of California.