The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have reached an agreement to allow the attendance of independent observers at this year's Tour de France.
The agreement means that independent observers will have the right to observe all phases of the anti-doping tests conducted by the UCI, from the selection of riders to be tested to the management of the results of the analyses conducted, with access to all related documentation. At the end of their mission, the observers appointed by WADA will draw up a report on the UCI's anti-doping activities at the 2010 Tour.
The UCI first considered the presence of WADA observers during the winter in response to criticism from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) of the controls done at the 2009 Tour de France. The UCI and AFLD have attacked each other constantly in recent months.
UCI President Pat McQuaid welcomed the signing of the agreement with WADA as a sign of transparency.
"Without doubt the UCI is one of the most active and most effective International Federations in terms of the fight against doping, in particular with the introduction of the biological passport. I asked WADA to send independent observers to the 2010 Tour de France so that our activities can be submitted to their impartial examination. I would like to thank WADA for having accepted this request. I look forward to hearing their conclusions with every confidence as the UCI works very strictly within the standards drawn up by WADA," McQuaid said.
WADA President John Fahey said: "The presence of Independent Observers at major sporting events contributes to strengthen the protection provided to clean athletes and to enhance their confidence, as well as the public's confidence, in the doping control and results management processes. Independent Observers conduct their mission in a neutral and unbiased manner and subsequently publish a report with their observations. We thank UCI for inviting Independent Observers at the Tour de France."
WADA last sent independent observers to the Tour de France in 2003. Their report was both praising and critical of the testing procedures then being used. Subsequent changes led to the introduction of chaperons, who now carefully control what riders do between the end of the race and the moment they undergo an anti-doping test.