Tour de Romance? Anti-doping agency studies Viagra ban

Untold numbers of men — and their partners — can attest to Viagra as a performance enhancer in the bedroom. Can it also perk up performance in a bicycling race?

Scientists at the University of Miami are studying whether sildenafil citrate can improve the speed of cyclists riding at altitude. The World Anti-Doping Agency is funding the two-year project to determine if Viagra should be added to the list of banned drugs in sports, joining steroids, human growth hormone and EPO.

At a lab on the Coral Gables campus, cyclists swallow a 50-milligram Viagra pill or placebo, step onto a stationary bike, warm up, then pedal at race pace for 3.6 miles while breathing oxygen-reduced air that simulates the effect of riding on a 12,800-foot mountain.

The Tour de Romance? No. None of the subjects has had an erection.

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