No failed drugs tests at Tour de France says UCI chief

But are no failed tests the same as no dopers? What about Mikel Astarloza…?

by Tony Farrelly   August 24, 2009  

Syringe

UCI President, Pat McQuaid said this weekend that there had been no positive drugs tests at this year's Tour de France and he looked forward to a drugs free future for the race.

McQuaid who was at the Tour of Ireland in Cork spoke of his optimism for the future inthe battle against doping in cycling:

"It's looking like the Tour de France will not have any positive tests for a number of years. I think that's a big step forward for cycling."  he told the Reurters news agency

The last few editions of cycling's biggest race have been marred by successive drugs scandals, both before, during and after recent editions as the organisers, for the last couple of editions of the race Tour organisers ASO took a particularly hard line on testing.

"It's been a difficult moment for cycling because of the doping scandals but I think we're coming out of it and going into a good period," McQuaid said.

While there has been general relief that this year's Tour passed off without any drug scandals – despite a concerted programme of testing co-ordinated by the UCI and ASO and the introduction of the UCI's biological passports – sceptics will point to Mike Astarloza's failed drug test.

It was announced that the Spaniard, who won Stage 16 of this year's Tour had failed a drugs test less than a week ater the end of the Tour and only 10 days after his stage win. Astarloza tested positive for EPO derivative – the sample was taken in an out of competition test in June - before the Tour's start.

Astarloza has been provisionally suspended by the UCI, but insists he is innocent - his team, Euskatel Euskadi are standing by their man saying that their internal testing procedures showed no anomalies.

The outcome of tests on Astarloza's b sample are due soon and should be an indication of whether McQuaid's optimisim is a little premature or not.