French anti-doping chief criticises UCI Tour testing

Updated: Oct 08, 2009, 11:05 AM IST

Paris: The International Cycling Union (UCI) did not fully respect the testing procedures during this year`s Tour de France and the fact that suspicious drugs were seized also casts doubts over the event, the French anti-doping chief said on Wednesday.

"The way UCI organised the controls was not quite in accordance with the regulations", French anti-doping agency (AFLD) president Pierre Bordry told a news conference.

"It does not mean that the Astana team were on drugs," added Bordry.

AFLD suggested in its report on the 2009 Tour that the Astana team, including Tour winner Alberto Contador and third-placed Lance Armstrong, were given preferential treatment during the race.

The UCI dismissed the accusations as completely groundless and Astana said they had always done what testers asked them.

However, AFLD testing director Jean-Pierre Verdy repeated on Wednesday that there was a problem.

"It`s mainly Astana that has been pointed at (regarding testing irregularities)," he said. "For the other teams, it was not as obvious."

The delay between the notification that a test would be conducted and the test itself was too long, Bordry said.

"We were surprised to see that, for reasons we ignore, a long delay was awarded to the riders," he said.

Such a delay could have given teams and riders a way to make sure illegal performance-enhancing substances could not be found by testers, said AFLD doctor Michel Rieu.

"We know well the methods that can be used to do that," Rieu said.

Bordry and Rieu also said they were surprised to have seized during the Tour a number of substances that were not performance-enhancing as such but could have been used as part of doping methods.

"Drugs against high blood pressure or diabetes are incongruous when dealing with people supposedly in good health," Rieu said.

"We were a bit surprised to see the range of medicine being taken by the riders," Bordry said.

The UCI and the AFLD had agreed to work together on the Tour de France, but the sport`s governing body is now considering another option for next year`s race.

None of the tests performed during the 2009 Tour turned out to be positive.

Bureau Report