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French anti-doping agency wants UCI backing to store Tour de France samples for eight years

AFLD to co-operate with UCI on this year's 100th edition of Tour - but says final say on storage of samples rests with governing body...

France’s national anti-doping agency, the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) has said that it wants the UCI’s backing to store blood and urine samples collected during the forthcoming 100th edition of the Tour de France for eight years.

The two organisations have often had a fractious relationship in the past, but in April announced that they would be co-operating in anti-doping efforts in this year’s Tour.

Unveiling the AFLD’s 2012 annual report today, the agency’s director-general, Bruno Genevois, said that 214 blood and urine samples had been taken from riders during the 2012 edition of the race, and confirmed that the budget this year was "at least as much as for last year," reports Associated Press.

One of those samples taken last year led to a positive test for the diuretic Xipadime by RadioShack-Nissan rider Fränk Schleck, who had finished third in the 2011 race, and who is currently serving a six-month ban.

Genevois added that race organisers ASO had agreed to pay half the costs of anti-doping testing at this year’s race, but highlighted that while World Anti Doping Agency rules required samples to be stored for up to eight years, there were costs involved in doing so and ultimately it was the UCI’s decision.

Keeping the samples for that long would enable them to be re-tested at a future date for substances and methods that are currently undetectable, similar to the situation that arose with EPO - believed to have been used in the peloton from the start of the 1990s, and banned since the early part of that decade, it was not until the Olympic Games in 2000 that a test for it was introduced.

"Legally, it's a sensitive issue," Genevois explained. "Those samples are collected at the UCI's request. The French laboratories keep them but it's the UCI that has control over them."

While UCI president Pat McQuaid insists that the sport is winning the war against the drug cheats, recent evidence suggests that the problem is far from being eradicated.

During last month’s Giro d’Italia, three riders failed doping controls – AG2R’s Sylvain Georges, sacked by the French team today, and the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia pair of Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio.

Today, the UCI announced that the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), which it set up in 2008 to manage its anti-doping programme, had carried out 14,168 tests across all disciplines in 2012, a 7.8 per cent increase over the previous year. Of those, 7,558 were in-competition tests, and 6,610 out of competition.

CADF Director Dr Francesca Rossi commented: “2012 was a very constructive year for the CADF as we combined the quantity of tests with the quality of our programme as far as procedures are concerned.

“Not only did the number of tests increase, but we have also obtained ISO certification, the international standard of quality for procedures,” she added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Lungsofa74yearold | 10 years ago

Agree - need to target the Dr's - the riders can't do it without their help otherwise they would get caught all the time. Also need to take conflict of interest out of the equation eg UCI employing Dr's instead of the teams. Lastly, the penalties are simply not high enough - min ban needs to go up to 5 years at the very least, followed by instant lifetime ban for second office. That would be a start.  39

Paul J | 10 years ago

Retro-spective testing is one of the most potent weapons the sports' authorities have. No athlete can know what kind of tests will be available over the next 8 years.

mikeprytherch | 10 years ago

Why keep them because they cannot re-tested at a later date, or am I incorrect with that belief ?, this is something I find totally stupid, surely to stop riders using "new" drugs that at this stage cannot be found, the rules should allow testing to go back and re-test previous samples with newly introduced tests, that is the ultimate deterrent isn't it ?

toothache90 replied to mikeprytherch | 10 years ago

mike your comment makes no sense at all. If you read the article carefully you will see that you can test previous samples using new technology and methods that will show that any rider that doped will be found out. Of course it's not much good when they have already benefited from the win(s) like LA.

what should be happening is targeting or at least working with the Doctors who may have knowledge, supply and give advice on the drugs to take and methods. Harsher penalties and prosecutions are needed for the Dr's and or suppliers to deter them even contemplating approaching a rider or vice versa.

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