Tour de France: Rogge defends 'credibility' of cycling in wake of Landis test

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The Independent Online

In the aftermath of Floyd Landis's positive drugs test, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, has defended professional cycling, saying that the sport remains credible precisely because it conducts rigorous testing and punishes drug-users.

"A sport is credible whenever it conducts the necessary amount of testing in and out of competition, whenever the sport is ready to penalise the athletes but also the people around the athletes," Rogge said. "Cycling is doing that."

Rogge, speaking here after a meeting of the European Olympic Committees, said statistics do not show large differences in drug use between cycling and other sports, adding that the commotion surround-ing cycling is caused only by its greater visibility.

"Doping is an issue for all sports," he said. "There are sports with a number of doping cases that don't catch the front pages - the television hardly speaks about them."

Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone after the 17th stage of the Tour de France 10 days ago, a day which all but sealed victory in cycling's blue riband event. The American has denied wrongdoing and asked for analysis of his B sample, maintaining that his natural meta-bolism caused the result.

The man who stands to gain most from his downfall is a friend of his from their days together in the Phonak team. As the Tour runner-up, Oscar Pereiro would be named as the winner, but he said, "I have a bittersweet feeling, because this is bad news for cycling and I would prefer to stay in second place and for the positive test not to be confirmed. Nobody wants to win in this manner. I would have preferred to celebrate on the top step of the podium in Paris."

In the aftermath of Landis's positive A sample, the organisers of the Vuelta de España, which along with the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia is one of the sport's big three races, have announced that they will exclude any team containing riders implicated in the Operacion Puerto blood-doping investigation from their race, which begins in Malaga on 26 August. Tour de France officials took the same measure, which led to race favourites such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso missing the event. Ullrich was subsequently sacked by his T-Mobile team.

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