Editors Note: FasterSkier.com is primarily a cross-country ski news source. However, we are providing coverage of the current doping issues at the Tour de France. As our readers know all too well, the use of banned substances is a significant issue in international cross-country ski racing. The events at the Tour provide insight into the current state of cheating in sport, and serve to remind us that this issue remains one of the largest challenges facing the international cross-country community.
The 2007 Tour de France suffered greatly from doping problems. This was directly related to the significant increase in the number of anti-doping controls conducted by the International Cycling Union (UCI). In this respect, the events of the last three weeks bear witness to the quality and effectiveness of the program implemented by the UCI.
Before the Tour de France, the ASO management team urged the UCI to reinforce its controls to ensure that the race was as “clean” as possible. Bearing this in mind, every expulsion of a rider who had cheated showed that the UCI was doing its job properly.
In this context, the attitude of Mr. Patrice Clerc, ASO President, and Mr. Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, is unacceptable. It is not possible to simultaneously call for more controls while also accusing the Federation that successfully organizes them, in observance of the anti-doping regulations, of seeking to damage the Tour de France.
The UCI strongly condemns the attitude of Mr. Clerc and Mr. Prudhomme. Apparently for them, the anti-doping campaign is a good thing if it protects the image of their race but is considered harassment if the results harm them. In a serious battle against doping, it is vital to accept the collateral effects. It seems that ASO’s objective is for a profitable Tour rather than a clean Tour.
The UCI also deplores the fact that Mr. Clerc and Mr. Prudhomme have brought the topic of doping, that the UCI is fighting against using all its powers, into the sphere of the dispute between ASO and the UCI. The desire of Mr. Clerc and Mr. Prudhomme to stir up controversy rather than work with the UCI to combat doping as best as possible is extremely regrettable and dangerous. The battle against doping is crucial. It should not be exploited by ASO as it seeks to increase its profits and power in cycling.
Mr. Prudhomme, while declaring that he would like to manage without the UCI, simply says that he no longer wants to respect the regulations that apply to all those involved in the world of sport. The whole of the sporting world must condemn such a position. Sport must not depend solely on the interests of individuals who want to introduce their own regulations in order to optimize their profits (e.g.: the proposal for an “ethical passport” announced by ASO without consultation, regardless of the prevailing sports regulations and procedures, which would open the way to all kinds of discrimination).
The UCI, on behalf of cycling, cannot accept that the ASO holds the destiny of the Tour de France hostage. First and foremost this magnificent event is a part of the heritage of world cycling before it was a very profitable private enterprise. The UCI will battle to ensure that the interests of the sport that it has always defended, come before ASO's commercial interests if there is conflict between these interests.
The UCI makes the following statement in relation to the cases of Sinkewitz and Rasmussen.
Suggesting that the UCI had intentionally announced the positive test result of the rider Patrik Sinkewitz during the Tour de France, with the objective of harming the race, even though he was tested by the German anti-doping agency rather than the UCI, is completely defamatory. ASO accuses the UCI of having suppressed this information until 18 July and asserts that it should have been informed before 7 July (start of the Tour). This accusation is groundless as the German Cycling Federation only made the information public on 18 July; it was on this date that the UCI gained knowledge of it.
Furthermore, asserting that the UCI agreed with the Danish Cycling Federation that the latter should announce during the Tour that its rider Michael Rasmussen would not be selected for the Danish national team for the UCI Road World Championships is pure fabrication and constitutes an insult to the Danish Federation.
The aim of these false accusations is to discredit and isolate the UCI. It also demonstrates that the cycling empire that ASO is seeking to build would be above all economic rather than ethical.
The UCI is working towards creating a new cycling with those people and organizations who have expressed their desire to do so. The current policies and management of the organizers of the Tour de France are clearly not directed towards this goal. The UCI will take action as necessary if an organizer intentionally endangers the process upon which cycling has embarked. Cycling in the future can only be constructed by those people and organizations who work for the general interest; those who follow only their own interests must be discarded.
Source: UCI Press Service