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The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has denied a request from the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) to carry out separate drug tests at the Tour de France.
Although responsibility for drug testing at the Tour rests with the UCI, the French agency approached WADA hoping to carry out around 60 extra tests at the July 3-25 race.
AFLD said its approach was motivated by the fact “that it has access to confidential information from the police and customs that it cannot share with other organizations,” enabling the agency to undertake targeted testing.
AFLD also raised doubts about the effectiveness of the tests carried out by the UCI, with which the agency has been in a dispute following a disastrous partnership at last year’s race.
WADA decided on Wednesday not to grant “authorization to the AFLD to carry out additional tests during the 2010 Tour de France.”
AFLD can supply names, but not more
The international agency emphasized that French law did not totally confirm with provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code and expressed concern that the results of AFLD drug tests could potentially lead to legislative stalemates.
WADA did however propose that the AFLD could submit a list of riders it hoped to target, with a view to UCI testers carrying out tests on them under the eye of independent observers from WADA.
The UCI and AFLD have been at loggerheads for several years over the subject of doping tests at the Tour de France.
In 2009 the AFLD accused the UCI of showing favoritism towards Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, with reports claiming their Astana team kept UCI doping inspectors waiting for nearly an hour as samples were sought.
In 2008 the AFLD carried out the majority of doping controls at the Tour, leading to a total of seven riders being caught using CERA, a new variant of the banned blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin).
After last year’s accusations by the AFLD, the UCI invited WADA to send independent observers to the Tour de France as they did for the last Olympics.
Teaming up with WADA for the Tour
On Tuesday WADA announced plans to closely monitor doping controls at next month’s Tour de France.
The anti-doping agency and the UCI signed a deal that will allow WADA officials to observe all phases of anti-doping control at the Tour, ranging from the selection of riders to be tested to the handling of test results.
According to the agreement, WADA will also have access to all related documents.
“The presence of Independent Observers at major sporting events contributes to strengthen the protection provided to clean athletes and to enhance their confidence, as well as the public’s confidence, in the doping control and results management processes,” said WADA President John Fahey. “Independent Observers conduct their mission in a neutral and unbiased manner and subsequently publish a report with their observations. We thank UCI for inviting Independent Observers at the Tour de France.”
Cycling’s governing body had requested the WADA observers in October in an effort to increase the transparency of its drug testing.
UCI President Pat McQuaid said he was pleased with the agreement.
“Without doubt the UCI is one of the most active and most effective International Federations in terms of the fight against doping, in particular with the introduction of the biological passport. I asked WADA to send independent observers to the 2010 Tour de France so that our activities can be submitted to their impartial examination. I would like to thank WADA for having accepted this request. I look forward to hearing their conclusions with every confidence as the UCI works very strictly within the standards drawn up by WADA.”