By Agence France Presse
The UCI is striking back at the French anti-doping agency AFLD, which earlier this month accused the UCI of giving Astana special treatment at the Tour de France.
The UCI on Thursday released a 12-page response blasting the AFLD report. The response said Astana received no special treatment, and in fact had been tested more than other teams at the Tour. The UCI also said AFLD, which assisted the UCI in testing at the Tour, labeled some samples from French riders with the riders’ full names, contrary to confidentiality rules intended to ensure unbiased lab testing and handling.
The UCI called the AFLD’s claims “totally unfounded” and hinted it would seek a “neutral” partner for doping tests carried out in France.
Among other things, the UCI report defends allowing a photographer to take pictures of Lance Armstrong while an anti-doping sample was being taken.
“It is the UCI’s view that if a rider agrees for a photographer to be present and to take pictures even while he is passing a sample, this does not invalidate the sample,” the response notes.
“The UCI is disappointed and angry that a partner in the international fight against doping chooses to submit such a groundless report which undermines rider and public confidence in the anti-doping programme conducted at the 2009 Tour de France.”
“The UCI did not actually need the services of AFLD. The role of the AFLD according to the agreement was modest. In short, they provided the doctors to assist our Doping Control Officers. The UCI also agreed to collaborate on targeted testing before and during the event, based on our respective information sources.
“While the UCI Anti-Doping programme always welcomes independent and professional scrutiny, the AFLD did not seek that role in the agreement with the UCI.
“The AFLD’s unilateral decision to conduct an informal observer programme, with the unfortunate result of an untimely, incomplete, misinformed and inaccurate report is puzzling and disappointing. It calls into question the motives of AFLD,” the UCI noted.
“Now that the Tour is over, it is even more evident that Astana received absolutely no special treatment, except in the sense of their riders being subject to considerably more doping controls than other riders,” the UCI went on.
“In fact the top individual Astana riders received more than three times the number of tests of most other riders in the race.”
The UCI concluded in a further barb that “it is important for everyone to understand that AFLD is far from perfect in the implementation of their own anti-doping activities.
“By the start of the Tour, UCI had conducted 190 out-of competition tests on riders short listed for the Tour, while AFLD had conducted 13 tests. Of these, six were on French riders whom they have access to test all year round. But of great significance is that five of the samples collected from riders in the same French team, were sent to the laboratory with the full names and details of the riders.
“This completely invalidates the anonymous chain of custody requirements of the Code and International Standard of Testing.”
The UCI further complained it had to endure “a lack of confidentiality from AFLD” and several UCI international races went without adequate doping control because of the failure of AFLD to fulfill their commitment to the French Cycling Federation and the UCI to send doctors to conduct testing.”