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ASIDE from its German labels, Pelikan Apotheke could be a pharmacy anywhere in the Western world.
The slightly pungent cocktail of beauty products and antibiotics, the colourful riot of toothpaste, tinea powders and moisturisers that jostle for space on its white, neon-lit shelves are familiar.
But Pelikan, one of two pharmacies in Buettgen,a small, drab town in the industrial heartland of Germany's Rhine region, has something Australian chemists can't offer – the technical name is glucocorticosteroid, but cyclists know it simply as Testicomp.
The banned substance is handy for athletes wanting explosive power in short bursts because it boosts cardiovascular capacity by increasing red blood cell numbers.
For track cyclists such as former world junior champion Mark French it meant he could sprint for longer – the difference between winning and losing, gold and anonymity.