A month after cycling’s governing body, the UCI, agreed with ASO, organisers of the Tour de France, not to use France’s anti-doping agency, the AFLD, on this year’s race, there is little sign of a thaw in their relationship with the news that the UCI has declined an offer from AFLD to collaborate on next month’s Paris-Nice race.
According to Reuters, UCI President Pat McQuaid, recently elected to the IOC and speaking at the Whistler ski resort currently hosting many of the Vancouver Winter Olympic events, wrote to Pierre Brody, who heads the AFLD, to tell him “I do not think your proposal will lead to an improvement in the fight against doping."
McQuaid’s letter added: "According to the World Anti-Doping code, international sporting events have to be controlled by the International Federations. That is the case for Paris-Nice, that will fall under the UCI's guidance. The UCI has planned to carry out 95 anti-doping tests.”
The Irishman continued: "Do you think it would be appropriate to accept this proposal since multiple attempts have shown that [sic] we can fear from such a collaboration with AFLD,” highlighting the issue of “the lack of random out of competition tests in France."
The latter is one of the chief criticisms levelled by the UCI at the AFLD. According to McQuaid’s letter, in the lead-up to last year’s Tour de France, the French body carried out only 13 out-of-competition tests, with six of those on French riders to whom it has access throughout the year. The UCI, on the other hand, had performed 190 out-of-competition tests.
Another bone of contention is what the UCI sees as favouritism shown by the AFLD to the Astana team, which put two riders on the Champs-Elysées podium in the shape of overall winner Alberto Contador and third-placed Lance Armstrong.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.