By Jean-François Quénet in Grenoble
During the three days preceding the start of the Tour de France in Brest on July 5, there won't be the traditional show of the medical visit for all the participants. Event director Christian Prudhomme realised that the general public was confused and thought it was an anti-doping check up. He inquired inside the medical staff of the Tour and concluded this was an unnecessary affair.
At the start of stage seven in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, Tour chief doctor Gérard Porte confirmed the issue and noted, "The last time we declared a rider unfit to race was about 32 years ago. It was a Belgian rider who had a furuncle. His team questioned us and we told them they'd better go to hospital. The guy knew that he wasn't able to ride the Tour."
This medical visit consisted of a cardio check up and measurements. It helped for the statistics. The media will now have to look into their archives to figure out if the shortest [rider] is really Samuel Dumoulin and the tallest Johan Vansummeren.
"The medical visit was a good thing for the media," Dr Porte underlined. "Now they will have to work differently in the few days before the race. For us, the medical staff of the Tour de France, it was a good thing for meeting everybody before the start, the riders and their doctors, and get to know each other. But from a medical point of view, it wasn't very useful. Nowadays, the cyclists have a lot of medical check-ups."
By cancelling the medical visit from their pre-race programme, the Tour de France organisation will avoid confusion from people thinking they gave the green light to riders proven to be on drugs. The doping tests in and out of competition are under the UCI and/or the national anti-doping agencies.