Lack of evidence has led to a French judge dropping criminal proceedings against Alexandre Vinokourov, Iban Mayo, and Cristian Moreni who were all caught doping during the 2007 Tour de France. One reason given by French authorities for their inability to proceed was the refusal of cycling world governing body, the UCI to hand over blood and urine samples that would have proved the riders had broken French law.
Yesterday when announcing that it was was suing the disgraced former cyclist Floyd Landis for defamation the UCI said it was doing so "to protect the integrity of cycling" the UCI has not said whether its decision to help three convicted dopers escape the legal consequences counts as "protecting the integrity of cycling" but it's certainly something that the wider cycling world is likely to debate.
All three men had faced the threat of prosecution under France's anti-doping laws following police raids on team hotel during the race's second rest day, in Pau. Nothing was found that could be used in evidence, but the three riders did fail tests while riding in France an offence under French law - however to prove the examining judge needed the relevant samples, which the UCI were unwilling to hand over. The hotel raids were set in train when Vinokourov failed a drugs test for EPO taken after he had won the individual time trial a few days earlier - the results of that test became known on the rest day in Pau.
Moreni, then riding as a domestique for Cofidis then failed a test for testosterone a few days later, both riders' teams were thrown off the race as a result. Iban Mayo, then riding for the Saunier Duval team was found to have failed a test on that rest day in Pau – again for EPO, a fact that didn't come to light until the day after the Tour had finished.
The 2007 Tour de France was probably the race's lowest ebb following on from the shock of the previous year's 'winner', Floyd Landis subsequently failing a dope test - teams and riders were put on notice before the race started that the organisers would not tolerate doping within the race and that if a rider failed a test his team would be thrown off the race. Even so three riders failed tests and suspicion dogged the Danish rider Michael Rasmussen throughout the race - leading his Rabobank team to pull him from the race while he was wearing the leader's yellow jersey.
While Rasmussen did not fail a drugs test he was later banned for two years and sacked by his team when it transpired that he had lied about his whereabouts to avoid drugs tests in the build up to the 2007 Tour - he claimed to have been in Mexix when he was in fact in Italy. Following Rasmussen's withdrawal the 2007 Tour was subsequently won by Alberto Contador.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.