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Cyclists, if they sign pledge, will forfeit year's salary if they fail doping test

GENEVA -- ProTour cyclists will be asked to sign a
declaration before the Tour de France saying they are not involved
in doping and that they agree to pay one year's salary if found
guilty of drug use.

The measures were announced Tuesday by the International Cycling
Union following a meeting with leaders of all 20 ProTour teams to
discuss the sport's doping crisis. The Tour starts in London on
July 7.

"The UCI will not tolerate any individual or organization that
causes damage to our sport," UCI president Pat McQuaid said.
"There is no reason cycling and doping should be linked and no
reason doping should overshadow our sport."

In the declaration, the riders also agree to let Spanish
authorities use their DNA to compare it to blood samples seized in
the Operation Puerto doping investigation.

T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish and Francaise des Jeux rider Sandy
Casar each signed the document at a news conference that followed
the meeting.

"It's better than nothing. It's a desperate step by a desperate
sport," Team Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer said. "But
it's an important step in the right direction because everyone can
see cycling is not free from doping."

It's better than nothing. It's a desperate step by a desperate
sport. ... But
it's an important step in the right direction because everyone can
see cycling is not free from doping.

Team Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer

The UCI will publish a list of those cyclists who have signed
the anti-doping declaration on its Web site.

"This will show those who are reluctant to sign it," McQuaid
said.

Although the federation can't force riders to sign, UCI is
asking team managers to take that into consideration when deciding
whether to enter riders in a race. The UCI is also asking teams not
to let riders involved in Operation Puerto or other doping cases
start the Tour de France or other races.

"The riders who are cheating might hesitate when they see a
one-year salary [as a sanction]," Holczer said.

UCI is also asking teams to forbid their cyclists from seeking
medical consultations outside the team staff.

"Illegal practices will not be tolerated anymore," McQuaid
said.

UCI appointed a Spanish-speaking lawyer to work at its
headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, on the Operation Puerto case.

The scandal broke in May 2006 when Spanish authorities seized
about 100 bags of frozen blood in the Madrid offices of Spanish
doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. More than 50 cyclists were implicated,
but a judge ruled that Spain's doping laws couldn't be applied
retroactively and threw out the case. However, the UCI has
continued to pursue the matter.

The UCI recently received 1,000 pages of files from the
investigation. It expects another 5,000 pages within the next few
weeks.