A new spirit of détente between the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, and the AFLD, France’s anti-doping agency, was confirmed today with an announcement by the UCI that the two bodies “will be collaborating closely on anti-doping controls during the Tour de France 2014 which begins on 5 July.”
In February last year, the AFLD said it would not carry out tests at the early-season Paris-Nice race in protest at what it claimed were improper anti-doping procedures carried out at the 2009 Tour de France by the UCI, which was under fire over its role in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
However, the two bodies later reached agreement on a deal for the AFLD to carry out anti-doping tests at the major cycling races held in France last year, including the Tour de France.
Since then, the UCI has elected a new president, Great Britain’s Brian Cookson, under a reforming agenda, and today’s announcement formalises the arrangement with the AFLD, with the UCI saying: “The agreement covering the Tour de France, is part of a cooperation agreement signed between the UCI on the one hand, represented by the CADF [Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation], and the AFLD on the other, which aims to ensure efficient anti-doping controls at all the major cycling competitions in France (Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France).
“This partnership takes place while the UCI and the CADF continue sharing information and data on the athlete biological passport with National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs). This type of agreement, already in existence with UKAD (United Kingdom), CCES (Canada), ADN (Norway), NADOF (Flanders) and ADS (Switzerland), has been now signed with AFLD.”
The UCI said that “several measures have been put in place in order to ensure the maximum efficiency of the control system:
= “Since last May, thanks to the location data provided by the CADF, the AFLD has carried out controls on a number of cyclists who will most likely participate in the “Grande Boucle”, supported if necessary by other national anti-doping agencies from neighbouring countries;
= “Shortly before the start of the race, blood checks will be carried out on all participants;
= “During the stages in the United Kingdom, AFLD, CADF and UKAD will collaborate in terms of logistic and intelligence information sharing;
= “During the stages in France, the decision regarding which cyclists to test will be jointly decided by the CADF and the AFLD, on the basis of shared information, in order to have a well-targeted approach towards the riders;
= “It was agreed that some samples will be kept, possibly for several years, in order to allow subsequent analyses with the benefit of technical progress concerning detection methods.”
Cookson said: “I am particularly delighted by this agreement between the UCI and the CADF and AFLD on the Tour de France. This partnership demonstrates that all anti-doping organisations can join forces to ensure the reputation of cycling during one of the major events of its calendar and even of the international sporting one.”
In February last year, the AFLD claimed that it could not work alongside the UCI “given the serious mistakes that have been previously identified and on which all the light has not yet been shed.” It did not specify the errors.
However, two weeks later the AFLD said the UCI had guaranteed “information on the whereabouts of the riders and their biological profile data in order to carry out random tests.”
The AFLD fell out with the UCI in 2009, claiming that the governing body gave preferential treatment to Armstrong's Astana team when the two organisations worked together collecting samples from riders at that year's Tour de France.
The UCI denied the allegations, and subsequently refused to work with the AFLD at the 2010 Paris-Nice race.
This year’s Tour de France begins in Leeds in northern England on 5 July.
Daryl Impey, the South African rider, has been withdrawn from the Australia-based Orica-GreenEdge team for the race after testing positive for the masking agent Probenecid. Sportcal