Thursday, June 23, 2011
Agencies agree on Tour tests
PARIS -- The French Anti-Doping Agency and the International Cycling Union will work together again to conduct doping tests during the Tour de France.
The organizations have signed a new deal extending their recently renewed partnership for the July 2-24 race, AFLD president Bruno Genevois said at a news conference Thursday.
The organizations have been at odds in recent years after former AFLD boss Pierre Bordry criticized the UCI's anti-doping program.
But the UCI and AFLD joined forces again this year during the Paris-Nice and Criterium du Dauphine races, when they collected the samples together.
Genevois declined to say how many tests would be performed for the Tour. However, UCI doctor Mario Zorzoli said the numbers would be "about the same compared to the previous years," when about 500 tests were performed.
Last year, the AFLD was cut out of testing by the UCI and only allowed to perform supplementary tests after WADA intervened.
When publishing its 2010 Tour report, WADA praised the UCI's overall efforts at the Tour but said improvements could be made in testing.
WADA's report also said the UCI should work with the AFLD given its track record in catching 2006 Tour champion Floyd Landis for doping and uncovering the use of CERA, an advanced form of the blood-booster EPO.
Most of the samples collected during the race will be tested at AFLD's Chatenay-Malabry lab but some would be sent to other accredited labs for specific analysis, Genevois said.
Alberto Contador's positive test for clenbuterol during last year's Tour was discovered at a lab in Cologne, Germany, which is one of just four labs with the technology to detect the minute traces of the banned substance.
Before the Tour starts, all riders will give two blood samples that will be tested in Lausanne.
"We are seeking efficiency and the Lausanne lab has all the tools required," Genevois said. "And they are also very fast (in delivering results)."
Zorzoli said there are indications that the fight against doping is gaining results.
"If I look at all the data we have from the years 2001-2002, we had about 10 percent of riders showing abnormal results," Zorzoli said. "Since 2008, this figure has dropped to about 2 percent."
Genevois said the AFLD will use data from the UCI's biological passport program to target possible cheats but also information from a special French police unit specialized in the fight against doping.
The biological passport uses an individual blood profile, designed to catch drug cheats by revealing changes in a cyclist's blood over time without needing to find traces of banned drugs.