UCI hits back at accusations

GENEVA -- Cycling's governing body has strongly rebuffed claims by France's anti-doping agency of lapses and favoritism in drug testing at this year's Tour de France.

The International Cycling Union compiled a report that singled out agency president Pierre Bordry for particular criticism on Thursday, calling him "mischievous and misinformed" and having "abused his position" to undermine cycling.

The UCI also said that the team of seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was tested more than others, countering allegations the Texan received preferential treatment.

The success of Astana riders such as Armstrong, who finished third, and overall winner Alberto Contador ensured that the team was tested often and also targeted at its hotel, the UCI said.

Astana riders were subjected to 81 doping tests, or more than 10 percent of the total conducted for the three-week race, the UCI said. All race samples returned negative results.

The governing body defended its "comprehensive and robust" testing at the Tour, which was carried out in partnership with the French agency, known as the AFLD.

Tour riders were subjected to "the most comprehensive and state-of-the-art anti-doping program outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," the report said.

The 12-page report, which has been seen by The Associated Press, was compiled in response to critical report from the AFLD.

The French agency said some riders received advance notice of doping tests, in contravention of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, and that some blood and urine samples were mishandled by UCI inspectors.

Its 10-page report was leaked to French media this month, days before Armstrong visited Paris to take part in a publicity launch for the 2010 race.

The UCI said on Thursday that the agency should have discussed the feedback in confidence and with the involvement of WADA.

"A true partner does not make assertions to the media before communicating them to their partner," the report stated. "However, with the UCI's reputation already shattered by Mr. Bordry's actions and rhetoric, there is no recourse but to set the record straight in the UCI's correction of his mischievous and misinformed statements."

The governing body broadened its attack to include other races on the cycling calendar where AFLD doctors were "unreliable" in performing their duties.

The report also said that the French agency has a reputation in world sports as being difficult to work with.

"The UCI is aware of at least three other major international federations who have experienced significant problems working with AFLD," it said.

The tit-for-tat attacks cast doubt on the ability of the two organizations to work together in future.

They had united for this year's Tour after the French agency conducted testing alone at the 2008 race, when the UCI was in dispute with Tour organizer ASO.

The AFLD caught drug cheats during that race, notably Italy's Riccardo Ricco, who won two mountain stages before testing positive for the banned blood-boosting hormone CERA.