By VeloNews Interactive
Tour de France organizers unveiled their version of cycling’s Ten Commandments in Paris Thursday — a plan of action aimed at stamping out doping in the peloton this year and setting a precedent for the future.
The 10-point plan, costing over 10 million francs ($1.4 million) over the next three years, focuses on banning riders who are caught doping from the start of the race, maintaining vigilance throughout the three-week event, and promoting “clean” sports practices in the future.
The measures are aimed at assuring the skeptical, and preventing a fiasco similar to that which nearly halted the 1998 Tour after police stopped the team car driven by Willy Voet, triggering the infamous Festina scandal.
Jean-Marie Leblanc, president of the Tour de France company, claims that the preemptive strike, which will begin with riders submitting blood samples to be tested 48 hours before the Tour prologue, signals a major change that will help transform the peloton significantly.
“Beforehand, our hands were partially tied because there was no consensus between the organizers of the Tour and the Union Cycliste Internationale regarding blood testing,” Leblanc said. “Now we have taken the initiative, and we have informed the various people involved in cycling from riders’ representatives to government and the organizers of other events such as the Tour of Spain and Italy. ” Every rider, team sports director and team doctor is also expected to sign a code of ethics agreement before the prologue in Dunkirk on July 7. In the northeastern port town, 180 Tour riders will be subjected to blood tests at team hotels prior to breakfast. The samples will then be flown directly to an accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the hematocrit levels will be examined.
Result should be known within 24 hours, and any rider whose sample indicates drug use will undergo a urine test. If it is shown that doping has been committed, the rider will not start the race but the team will be allowed to bring on a replacement.
Daily controls, including the newly-certified urine test for EPO, will also be maintained. Each day 10 riders being tested, including the stage winner, the three overall standings leaders, and six riders chosen at random.