France’s national anti-doping agency, the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) has said that it wants the UCI’s backing to store blood and urine samples collected during the forthcoming 100th edition of the Tour de France for eight years.
The two organisations have often had a fractious relationship in the past, but in April announced that they would be co-operating in anti-doping efforts in this year’s Tour.
Unveiling the AFLD’s 2012 annual report today, the agency’s director-general, Bruno Genevois, said that 214 blood and urine samples had been taken from riders during the 2012 edition of the race, and confirmed that the budget this year was "at least as much as for last year," reports Associated Press.
One of those samples taken last year led to a positive test for the diuretic Xipadime by RadioShack-Nissan rider Fränk Schleck, who had finished third in the 2011 race, and who is currently serving a six-month ban.
Genevois added that race organisers ASO had agreed to pay half the costs of anti-doping testing at this year’s race, but highlighted that while World Anti Doping Agency rules required samples to be stored for up to eight years, there were costs involved in doing so and ultimately it was the UCI’s decision.
Keeping the samples for that long would enable them to be re-tested at a future date for substances and methods that are currently undetectable, similar to the situation that arose with EPO - believed to have been used in the peloton from the start of the 1990s, and banned since the early part of that decade, it was not until the Olympic Games in 2000 that a test for it was introduced.
"Legally, it's a sensitive issue," Genevois explained. "Those samples are collected at the UCI's request. The French laboratories keep them but it's the UCI that has control over them."
While UCI president Pat McQuaid insists that the sport is winning the war against the drug cheats, recent evidence suggests that the problem is far from being eradicated.
During last month’s Giro d’Italia, three riders failed doping controls – AG2R’s Sylvain Georges, sacked by the French team today, and the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia pair of Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio.
Today, the UCI announced that the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), which it set up in 2008 to manage its anti-doping programme, had carried out 14,168 tests across all disciplines in 2012, a 7.8 per cent increase over the previous year. Of those, 7,558 were in-competition tests, and 6,610 out of competition.
CADF Director Dr Francesca Rossi commented: “2012 was a very constructive year for the CADF as we combined the quantity of tests with the quality of our programme as far as procedures are concerned.
“Not only did the number of tests increase, but we have also obtained ISO certification, the international standard of quality for procedures,” she added.
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.