Tour de France: UCI tightens doping controls ahead of the Tour


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The Independent Online

The Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI), professional cycling's governing body, has revealed plans to tighten up anti-doping controls at this year's Tour de France, which begins on Saturday 5 July in Leeds.

Those plans consist of a new agreement between the Agence Francaise de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), the independent body mandated by the UCI to carry out the fight against doping in cycling. Riders participating in the Tour de France will undergo a number of stringent checks, including blood checks for all ahead of the race.

In addition, the UCI has confirmed that certain riders will be target-tested as part of a joint decision between the CADF and AFLD. Some blood samples will also be kept, possibly for several years to leave the possibility open for re-testing with developing technology.

In response to the agreement, UCI President Brian Cookson said, "I am particularly delighted by this agreement between the UCI and the CADF and AFLD on the Tour de France. This partnership demonstrates that all anti-doping organisations can join forces to ensure the reputation of cycling during one of the major events of its calendar and even of the international sporting one."

One of Cookson's key pledges after ousting former UCI President Pat McQuaid from his position in September 2013 was to make cycling's anti-doping programme completely independent of the UCI. This latest news will be seen as a step in the right direction towards that aim.

However, he and his organisation have not been immune from criticism. Cookson has had to defend the UCI from questions of bias in recent weeks, after it was alleged that the reigning Tour de France winner Chris Froome had received special dispensation for corticosteroids duirng the Tour de Romandie in late April.

In the last few days, the sport has been left reeling from the omission from this year's Tour de France of two high-profile riders. Roman Kreuziger, the lieutenant of Alberto Contador, and Daryl Impey, the first African wearer of the yellow jersey will both be missing from the race due to ongoing doping investigations.