French anti-doping agency in battle to maintain funding
Bruno Genevois, the president of the France Anti-doping Agency AFLD, has expressed the hope that his agency will be able to work alongside the UCI in carrying out anti-doping tests at the Tour de France.
Last year, the UCI attempted to block the AFLD from performing any testing at the Tour, before a compromise brokered by WADA allowed the French body to order some targeted tests.
“I hope that the agency exercises controls at the Tour de France as in all other (national) competitions that it is charged with controlling,” Genevois told rmc.fr. “But it has to pass through dialogue. I don’t want another scenario where there isn’t an agreement between the AFLD and the UCI.”
In 2008, disagreements between the UCI and Tour organisers ASO saw the AFLD lead controls, and the French body’s groundbreaking use of targeted testing saw a number of riders return positive samples for CERA. The UCI reassumed charge of testing ahead of the following year’s race, which saw Lance Armstrong return to the race.
The now-retired American was recently labelled an “icon” by UCI president Pat McQuaid, in spite of the accusations of impropriety that have mounted against him. Genevois was more circumspect in his assessment of Armstrong’s legacy.
“If you only consider his palmares, it commands admiration,” he said. “That doesn’t stop American justice from taking an interest in the compliance of one of its nationals with the laws of his country. In the meantime, let’s keep Lance Armstrong’s palmares and if the actions of the American authorities were to change the lines, that will be the time to judge.”
Last month, Genevois confirmed that US authorities had asked the AFLD for Armstrong's urine samples from the 1999 Tour.
Genevois was reluctant to make any judgement on the case of Alberto Contador, who was cleared by the Spanish Federation even though he tested positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour, but he echoed race director Christian Prudhomme’s hope that a final verdict will be reached by July.
“During the presentation of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme wished that the matter would be sorted before the next Tour,” Genevois said. “He spoke with wisdom. If there is an appeal, it would be good if it were decided quickly.”
Meanwhile, the AFLD faces an ongoing battle to maintain its current levels of funding. A measure that would see a percentage of the tax on sporting television rights go to the fight against doping has hit a stumbling block.
“The secretary of state for sport, sensitive to the reticence of professional football, withdrew the bill that was on the point of being voted upon,” Genevouis explained. “It has been maintained that there is little or no doping in football. This opinion does not go along with the principle of solidarity among sports, and it remains to be debated if there is no doping in football.”