Beltran banned from competing in France for two years

PARIS -- Spanish cyclist Manuel Beltran was banned Tuesday from competing in France for two years after he failed a doping test at the Tour de France.

The ban takes effect immediately, said Pierre Bordry, the head of the French Anti-Doping Agency.

The 37-year-old cyclist, a former teammate of seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong, tested positive for EPO at this year's Tour, and will be ineligible for the next two editions of cycling's premiere race.

The French agency oversaw all testing at this year's Tour and caught six riders using two forms of EPO.

Bordry said Beltran and the International Cycling Union have been notified of the ban, and that he expects the sport's governing body to uphold it in its competitions by applying the World Anti-Doping Agency's code.

Beltran and his Spanish countryman Moises Duenas Nevado both tested positive for an older form of the banned blood booster during the showcase race.

Four others were caught using a more advanced form of EPO called CERA -- German time trial specialist Stefan Schumacher, Austrian climber Bernhard Kohl and Italian climbers Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli.

Kohl broke down in a tearful confession, blaming an intense pressure to compete, while Ricco testified before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

Dmitriy Fofonov of Kazakhstan also tested positive for a banned stimulant on the final day of the Tour.

Although samples from this year's Tour were retested for CERA by the AFLD after the race, those from other big races such as the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta have not been retested.