By Jean-François Quénet in Paris
Cyclo-cross star John Gadret who won the GP Gippingen and the Tour de l'Ain this year with Ag2r gave his comments after the launch of the 2008 Tour de France, a race he took part in for the first time this year.
"It's been an absolute nightmare," he remembered. "I felt I was in hell because it was going so fast. I hope the biological passport is a solution to the problem. It is a weight upon us to handle the doping environment when we have nothing to do with it."
His team-mate, 37 year-old Stéphane Goubert also was optimistic. "The biological passport will restore the credibility of the Tour de France and the bike riders," he said. "It's good thing. My only regret is that it's not extended to all the sports from the start. But at least there won't be suspicions on the riders anymore. We hope that this is the solution, but the other controls [will] have to be well done as well. There is a real consciousness that cheats will now get caught very quickly if there are still some around."
Thomas Voeckler gave had a more skeptical opinion. "I'm past the age to believe in the word 'renewal' for cycling because I've heard it too many times already and that didn't prevent new scandals from happening. Many promises haven't been kept in the past. I don't think the biological passport is the miraculous solution. I believe in it without being too excited about it. If it's done properly, it's a very good measure. Regular blood checks are more efficient than controls.
Nonetheless, Voeckler showed some optimism. "I truly hope for a cleaner cycling though. If it has to become better, it's now. There is a common wish that didn't exist before. I want this to work for the public who still follows us and for the young riders who begin cycling now. I can understand that some people are sick of hearing promises. [Alexander] Vinokourov had signed the ethical charter, right? The biological passport is more concrete though."
Current anti-doping clean-up efforts are reminiscent of the clean-up in French cycling that followed the Festina scandal in 1998, and many are hoping for better days ahead.