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Blame game starts in Roubaix testing debacle

The failure of organizers to set up a drug testing facility at the end of the Paris-Roubaix classic race was condemned as "unacceptable" by the French sports ministry on Monday. Worryingly for a sport that has been dogged by drug controversies, it was revealed that the absence of the facility was due to local medical staff believing the event was a cross-country race and not a prestigious round of the World Cup. Although the race was organized by the company which runs the Tour de France and the French cycling federation, the responsibility for dope testing was with the regional

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French doping ministry blames organizers for Roubaix mix-up

By VeloNews Interactive

The failure of organizers to set up a drug testing facility at the end of the Paris-Roubaix classic race was condemned as “unacceptable” by the French sports ministry on Monday. Worryingly for a sport that has been dogged by drug controversies, it was revealed that the absence of the facility was due to local medical staff believing the event was a cross-country race and not a prestigious round of the World Cup. Although the race was organized by the company which runs the Tour de France and the French cycling federation, the responsibility for dope testing was with the regional officials of the sports ministry based in Lille. “However, the decentralized service made a regrettable mistake by confusing the World Cup round with a mountain bike race on the same course on April 13 and 14,” said a statement from the French sports ministry. “This type of incident is fortunately relatively rare when you consider that the ministry annually carries out approximately 7500 tests of which a little more than 1700 are for cycling alone, mainly at the request of the Union Cycliste Internationale,” added the statement. “The error made in Roubaix does not make it any less unacceptable,” added the statement which added that sports minister Marie-George Buffet has ordered the departments concerned “to redouble their vigilance”. The UCI, which oversees the random, pre-race hematocrit testing program, did carry out those tests before the start of the race in Compiègne on Sunday morning. Twenty four riders from four teams — Rabobank, La Francaise des Jeux, Saeco and CSC — were tested. None showed what the UCI calls an “unsafe” level of red blood cells.

Following the finish in Roubaix, however, Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix director Jean-Marie Leblanc said he would be protesting at the lack of medical personnel to carry out doping tests at the finish of the classic race. Leblanc said he would be complaining to the French sports ministry, the country’s cycling federation and the sport’s world governing body the UCI after no tests were carried out following Sunday’s race which was won by Belgian Johan Museeuw.