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By Hedwig Kröner All 20 invited professional cycling teams, including 17 ProTour teams have signed...
By Hedwig Kröner
All 20 invited professional cycling teams, including 17 ProTour teams have signed their participation contracts with Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). Similarly to Paris-Nice, ASO has proposed to the teams a contract stipulating the terms and conditions of their participation, as the event will not be held under the authority of the International Cycling Union (UCI). As the head of the team's association AIGCP, Cofidis manager Eric Boyer, confirmed to Cyclingnews on Friday, all the teams agreed with the document' clauses, which include a possible fine of 100,000 Euro in case of a positive doping test occurring during the three-week Grand Tour.
In order to protect the image of the race, organiser ASO included a set of rules to follow in the case of an emerging doping affair. "If a rider tests positive during the Tour, or if a positive test prior to the Tour is made public during the event, and if there is a verified complicity of the team staff, the team will be asked to leave the Tour and to pay a fine of 100,000 Euro. To me, that is completely legitimate," said Boyer. "In the event of a positive doping case where the rider acted on his own, there will be no fine and the team will be allowed to stay. If there is a legal dispute, the Chambre arbitrale du Sport (the Arbitration Chamber of France's National Olympic Committee - ed.] will rule on the case within 24 hours. Its decision will be binding for both the organiser and the team."
Because of the long time span between the analysis of an 'A' and 'B' sample, the anti-doping clauses will take effect already after a positive 'A' test. "For the sake of precaution and to protect the image of the race, it has been agreed that the testing of the 'B' sample will not be waited for," Boyer explained.
The head of the team's association attracted the wrath of the UCI in March, when UCI president Pat McQuaid accused him of taking ASO's side in the conflict regarding Paris-Nice participation, and threatening him with a disciplinary procedure. At the time, AIGCP president Boyer had issued a recommendation of signing the participation contracts for the 'race to the sun', which was seen as impartiality by the UCI. This time, Boyer assured he did not make the same mistake again.
"After my Paris-Nice experience, the AIGCP worked with ASO to negotiate a participation contract for the Tour which is quite similar to the one we had for Paris-Nice," he continued. "But I did not, this time, give any recommendation to sign it. ASO sent the contracts to the teams, leaving them free to sign, or not to sign. I preferred this method in order not to re-live my experience at Paris-Nice. Also, this method shows that all the reproaches made by the UCI - that I manipulated the teams and pushed them to a signature of the contract - are ridiculous and false. When leaving the teams free to choose, all of them signed. So it made no difference - the result is the same."
Boyer added that, to date, no disciplinary procedure had been opened against him by the UCI.
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