The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will be acting as independent observers to the drug testing programme administered by world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, at this year’s Tour de France, which gets under way in Rotterdam a week on Saturday.
The two organisations announced the news in a joint press release, and say the partnership is aimed at “ensuring the total transparency of the UCI’s activities in the fight against doping at the most important race on the calendar.
Under an agreement signed by the UCI and WADA yesterday, the observers “will have the right to observe all phases of the anti-doping controls conducted by the UCI, from the selection of riders to be tested to the management of the results of the analyses conducted, with access to all related documentation.”
Following the end of the race, the observers will compile and publish a report regarding the UCI’s drug-testing activities at the race.
The partnership results from an invitation extended to WADA by the UCI, which last year came under criticism, notably from the French government anti-doping body, the AFLD, for allegedly favouring riders from Team Astana, whose riders included Lance Armstrong and yellow jersey winner Alberto Contador.
Commenting on the co-operation with the UCI, WADA President John Fahey: “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.”
He continued: “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.”
UCI President Pat McQuaid likewise welcomed the agreement with WADA, saying: "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."
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.