The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) has indicated that it is prepared to work together with the International Cycling Union (UCI) in carrying out testing at the 2011 Tour de France.
“On the occasion of next season’s major events (Paris-Nice, Dauphine Liberé and the Tour de France), the AFLD is willing to join its efforts with those of the UCI, both before and during competition,” read a statement from the AFLD on Tuesday.
The UCI had primary responsibility for testing at the 2010 Tour de France and an independent report released by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last Thursday expressed concern at the lack of cooperation between the two bodies. The report noted that, “without apportioning blame to either party, the lack of cooperation and trust evident between the UCI and the AFLD for the Tour was extremely disappointing to observe.”
The AFLD has declared itself pleased with the contents of the report and hailed the presence of the WADA observers at the 2010 Tour. “The presence of observers at the Tour de France has contributed give to the tests carried out during this competition additional fairness and efficiency. It also served as a deterrent to riders tempted to exploit the possibilities of doping.”
One of the primary reservations of the independent report was that the UCI placed too much emphasis on performing tests for its biological passport system, to the detriment of more traditional anti-doping controls. The AFLD echoed this point, recommending that data from the biological passport be used to aid in targeted testing.
“The efficacy of the controls must still be improved,” noted the AFLD statement. “The application of several of the independent observers’ recommendations would complement the anti-doping programme, in particular a better use of the results of biological passport before the races and sincere cooperation between the parties and institutions involved.”
Pierre Bordry resigned as president of the AFLD in September and has since been replaced at the helm by Bruno Genevois. It is unclear if the change in leadership will have any impact on the often difficult relationship between the UCI and the French body, which required the intervention of WADA to allow it to play a role in drug testing at this year's Tour de France.