Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, has said this year's Tour can be taken seriously, despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the sport's doping problems, but cautioned he cannot guarantee a clean Tour. Prudhomme's comments came as he met London mayor Ken Livingstone in the UK, where this year's race makes its grand depart and contests the prologue and first stage.
"You can take the Tour de France seriously because we have the real will to fight the doping problem," responded the Frenchmen when scrutinized by the attending media. "I cannot guarantee it will be completely clean but I can say that doping is the enemy of cycling and the Tour and that we are doing everything we can to combat it."
Speaking in London, Prudhomme noted that doping is an issue the entire sporting spectrum faces, and that cycling must concentrate on the future rather than dwell on the past.
"Cycling is not alone when it comes to doping," he said. "We don't have all the cheats in our sport and though we have been harmed we cannot always be looking back. Landis gave us a new hero but 48 hours later he was out. Now a new hero will arrive."
Reverting to the point of the press conference, the Tour's first visit to London, both Prudhomme and Livingstone spoke enthusiastically of its debut in one of the world's greatest cities.
"The Tour is coming to London for the first time, it will be a showpiece event in a wonderful city for millions of people to enjoy and it is much more than just a sporting competition," concluded Prudhomme.
Livingstone supported the sentiment of the Frenchman's remarks, adding: "The British capital's power and prestige will make the 2007 Tour stand out from all those that have preceded it."