The increased thickness of the blood (above 70% red blood cells) increases the risk of blood clotting which can block blood vessels causing a heart attack or stroke, especially in the middle of the night when the heart's rate is lowest.Doctors and blood specialists concluded that the drug could have been implicated in the deaths of as many as 18 European professional bicycle racers between 19.
The practice, instigated by national coach Eddie Borysewicz, was not against Olympic rules although Games medical guidelines discouraged it. The others were John Beckman, Mark Whitehead and Brent Emery.However, the main Bordeaux–Paris race did not start until 1891, and the cyclist who supposedly died in 1886, Arthur Linton, actually finished second in 1896 and died a few weeks later, reportedly from a combination of drug-induced exhaustion and typhoid fever.Riders suffered hallucinations from the exhaustion and perhaps the drugs.After the Tour de France had finished, Joop Zoetemelk was found to have used doping, which he confessed later.
Zoetemelk was penalized by 10 minutes in the general classification, but kept his second place. cycling team's successes were coloured by revelations that riders had blood transfusions before their events, a practice known as blood-doping. Mike Fraysse, a former president of the federation, was demoted from first to third vice-president.
The first riders to be caught were four amateurs, three Spanish (Luis Santamarina, Canet and Usamentiaga) and one Briton (Ken Hill), who were thrown out of the Milk Race when they tested positive for amphetamines after Professor Arnold Beckett first applied sensitive gas chromatographic techniques to monitor drug abuse. Raymond Poulidor was the first rider to be tested in the Tour at the end of a stage to Bordeaux.