Doping youth riders is child abuse, says outraged UCI president Brian Cookson

A culture of doping continues in the sport, according to a recent report

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Introducing young riders to performance-enhancing drugs is “nothing short of child abuse”, the International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson has said.

A report into doping published on Monday stated that youth cycling was especially vulnerable. “I want to look into that with a bit more seriousness,” Cookson said. “I think it may well be [happening] in certain parts of the world, it’s not widespread but let’s look at it.”

The report stated that  “anti-doping testing is concentrated at the elite level so doping may go undetected at lower levels. If youth riders want to reach higher ranks, the incentives are there to dope at an early age”.

Cookson added: “One of the things that caused me real  concern was the suggestion that there may be evidence that doping is creeping into the youth ranks as well. Frankly, if people are supplying youth riders with doping products and procedures, that’s nothing short of child abuse. People should be subject to criminal proceedings.”

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission, which was established at the start of last year to look into doping during the 1990s and 2000s, was heavily critical of the sport’s leadership.

The report cleared former UCI presidents of corruption but accused them of multiple failings. One of the criticisms was that the UCI did not want to catch the drug cheats.

It was announced yesterday that French rider Lloyd Mondory has failed an out-of-competition test for the banned blood-booster EPO, the third positive case involving his AG2r-La Mondiale team in recent years.

Mark Cavendish will compete at the Tirreno-Adriatico this week despite picking up an illness in South Africa. Fellow Briton Chris Froome’s last-minute decision not to compete in the race for a second consecutive year angered organiser RCS Sport, who said that Team Sky is showing a lack of respect.

“I wrote to Sky’s team manager, David Brailsford,” RCS director Mauro Vegni said. “I didn’t like that I had to find out the news about Froome’s withdrawal via various websites. At least they could’ve bothered to call me. Unfortunately, our relationship is not as good as I thought it was.”

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas remains 10th in the overall standings of the Paris-Nice after German André Greipel sprinted to victory on the second stage.

Thomas, Germany’s Tony Martin and Dutchman Lars Boom established a lead with five kilometres remaining of the 172km stage between Saint-Aignan and Saint-Amand-Montrond.But Greipel reeled them in and held off the challenge of France’s Arnaud Démare.

Thomas remains 13 seconds behind overall leader Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland, but team-mate and former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins slipped back to 42 seconds off the pace.

Meanwhile Alberto Contador has extended his contract with the Tinkoff-Saxo team and will ride one more year before retiring.