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McQuaid: No doping positives at ’09 Tour

UCI president Pat McQuaid told Reuters on Sunday that there were no positive tests at this year’s Tour de France.

Based on controls taken so far, McQuaid said he is optimistic about the future of the sport.

“At this point in time I haven’t heard of any positive tests at this year’s Tour de France or that we’re checking samples to confirm positives,” McQuaid told Reuters’ Stephen Farrand. “It’s looking like the Tour de France will not have any positive tests for a number of years.”

McQuaid spoke to reporters Sunday during the final stage of the Tour of Ireland.

McQuaid said the introduction of the biological passport during the 2008 season has helped tighten the noose on would-be cheaters.

Despite a string of high-profile doping cases going into the 2009 season, McQuaid said he believes the sport has turned the corner on the doping issue.

“It’s been a difficult moment for cycling because of the doping scandals but I think we’re coming out of it and going into a good period,” McQuaid said. “I think that’s a big step forward for cycling.”

The Tour, however, is still confronting a doping case with Basque rider Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition test taken just days before the start of the 2009 Tour.

Astarloza went on to win a stage in the Alps, only to have the results of the positive test disclosed in August.

Astarloza denies charges that he was taking EPO.

In another case not linked to the Tour, Giro d’Italia runner-up Danilo Di Luca tested positive for EPO. He’s since been fired by his LPR team.

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