Organisations bury hatchet; France's sports minister says co-operation marks progress in battle against doping...

The UCI and France’s national anti-doping agency, l’Agence Francaise de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD), have at least temporarily set aside their differences with the announcement today that they will co-operate to conduct anti-doping testing at major races including the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. The country's sports minister has described the news as reflecting progress in the battle against doping.

The two organisations have had their differences in the past, most recently earlier this season year when the AFLD declined to participate in anti-doping testing at Paris-Nice.

The agency cited “serious errors” in the past on the UCI’s part and claiming that the governing body did not provide sufficient guarantees to ensure credible testing, although discussions with the UCI were reopened a fortnight later, reports L’Equipe, after the governing body provided greater transparency.

The sports daily, owned like the Tour de France and Critérium du Dauphiné by ASO, says France’s sports minister, Valérie Fourneyron, was a prime mover behind the accord being reached.

It also quoted her as saying that the agreement “marks the first tangible progress in the fight against doping in cycling since the Armstrong affair broke.”

The UCI’s involvement will be via the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) that it set up in 2008 at the same time as establishing the biological passport programme.

CADF director Francesca Rossi commented: “We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with the AFLD.

“The CADF's and the AFLD’s anti-doping procedures are among the most innovative and stringent in sport.

“It was cycling, for example, that was the first sport to introduce the urinary EPO test, the homologous blood transfusion test and the biological passport.”

UCI President Pat McQuaid added: “The UCI is determined to ensure that cycling is a clean sport. As such, we are extremely happy to be partnering with the AFLD.

“Together, we will ensure that today’s young riders in the peloton are not tarnished by issues that took place years in the past.

“Cycling has a bright future and those who will define that future can be found among the current generation of riders who have chosen to prove that you can compete and win clean.”

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.