Today saw round 3 in the war of words between the French Anti Doping Agency (AFLD) and the cycle sport's governing body, the UCI. At an eagerly anticipated press conference today the AFLD announced that while there had been no positive tests so far from the samples taken at this year's Tour de France the organisation had seized suspicious substances, and AFLD boss Pierre Bordry repeated his criticism of the UCI's approach to testing and of its supposedly favourable treatment of the Astana team.
According to the AFLD the drugs seized at the Tour, while not performance enhancing themselves, were known to be used as part of organised doping regimes.
"We know well the methods that can be used to do that," AFLD doctor, Michel Rieu, told reports adding that "Drugs against high blood pressure or diabetes are incongruous when dealing with people supposedly in good health".
Speaking to Le Monde on Monday, Monsieur Bordry had said he was convinced that riders had been using two new drugs at this year's Tour, Hematide – a third generation EPO product, and Aicur which works on muscular tissue to promote the burning of fat. Bordry told Le Monde that he was concerned at how thin some of this year's Tour riders were.
No test currently exists for either Hematide or Aicur, so it is possibly unsurprising that no positives were found – however the AFLD are working on developing tests and will continue to test samples retrospectively as it is still doing with samples from the 2008 Tour.
The other main themes of the press conference were the AFLD's continued assertion that the UCI favoured Astana, and so didn't conform to doping regulation, in the way it implemented its own testing procedures although AFLD testing director Jean-Pierre Verdy was careful to point out that this did not mean that Astana were necessarily doing anything wrong.
What concerned the AFLD was that when it came to Astana there was often a long delay between notification of a test and the actual test itself which according to Dr Lieu gave riders the opportunity to get ride of any incriminating evidence.
Round 4 in what promises to be a long running saga will no doubt be along shortly with an inevitable angry response from the UCI.
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.