WADA praises testing on Tour de France

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2010, 14:21 PM IST

Paris: The World Anti-Doping agency has
praised the testing at this year`s Tour de France but wants
cycling`s governing body to be more aggressive and less
rider-friendly.

In a report published yesterday, WADA said the
International Cycling Union ran thorough tests but was too
friendly with some riders, adding that more riders should be
taken out of their comfort zone and tested late at night.

"The anti-doping programme at the 2010 Tour was of a good
quality," WADA said. "The UCI`s anti-doping programme has been
forced to evolve rapidly over the past years due to the many
instances of doping."

WADA`s observers felt there was too much camaraderie with
riders, and that a more ruthless approach is needed.

"Many people on the Tour and even those involved in
anti-doping on the Tour have, at times, an unhealthy
attachment to those competing," WADA said. "The IO
(Independent Observers) Team observed a number of occasions
where a more aggressive approach to testing riders outside of
the Post-Finish sessions should have been undertaken."

Fearing that some testing methods are too predictable,
WADA wants late-night testing that may catch cheats off guard,
even though this could be a hugely unpopular move.

"The UCI would need to accept that if it truly wishes to
take the fight against doping to a new level it will not
necessarily receive compliments from all riders and teams,"
WADA said, adding that the UCI should centralise managing the
results rather than delegating to national federations.

Alberto Contador won the Tour for the third time, but the
Spaniard has since been provisionally suspended by the UCI
after testing positive for the banned drug clenbuterol and
could lose his title.

Contador claims the traces of the banned drug clenbuterol
in his sample came from contaminated steak. He also denied
that tests found traces of plastic residues indicating he
might have undergone banned blood transfusions.

The Tour de France has been rocked by a succession of
doping scandals.

American rider Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour
title after testing positive for testosterone.

New tests for CERA - an advanced form of the
blood-booster EPO - led to several riders being caught doping
at the 2008 Tour. Among those was mountain-climbing specialist
Bernhard Kohl of Austria, who has since been working with
anti-doping officials to highlight just how widespread doping
is in cycling.

WADA feels others sports are lagging way behind the UCI.
"There are very few anti-doping programmes delivered by
International Federations that come close," WADA said.

But WADA thinks the UCI could improve by working more
harmoniously with the French Anti-Doping Agency, given the
AFLD`s proven track record in catching Landis and uncovering
the use of CERA.

The AFLD and the UCI have been at loggerheads over recent
years, with the AFLD`s former president, Pierre Bordry,
criticising the UCI`s anti-doping program and the UCI
responding by cutting the AFLD out of this year`s testing.

The AFLD was allowed to do further testing at this year`s
Tour, but only after WADA intervened.

"The lack of cooperation and trust evident between the
UCI and the AFLD for the Tour was extremely disappointing to
observe," WADA said. "Urgent talks should take place between
the UCI and the AFLD to resolve the current impasse."

Bureau Report