Tour de France: Drug testers winning fight as race is cleanest in years – so far

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The Independent Online

For the first time in over a decade, the Tour may have taken place without a major drugs scandal – with the emphasis on "may".

The race has not lacked indirect links to doping stories, with Floyd Landis' continuing allegations against former team-mate Lance Armstrong the most significant. There is also the case of green jersey winner Alessandro Petacchi being summoned to talk to the Carabinieri in Italy next week over possible use of banned substances.

So far, so bad. But for those wanting to be more optimistic, cyclists in this year's Tour are yet to return any positive dope tests – with the huge caveat that not all of them have been fully analysed, a process that can take as long as two or three months.

Other indirect indications of less doping are a drop in the average race speed and a lack of any real demonstrations of superiority by any one rider – or, more importantly, any one team. There have also been six victories, the most in 13 years, for the French – traditionally considered to be the "cleanest" nation.

Another sign of progress is the lack of spats between competing anti-doping agencies – as there were last year – or allegations that the UCI, cycling's governing body, had been "soft" on certain teams. "The riders are becoming increasingly aware and that's good," was how Alberto Contador explained it.