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Prudhomme says UCI responsible for stringent drug controls at 2010 Tour
In the wake of the split between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme has called on the sport's governing body to ensure continuity of testing at the 2010 Tour, with the World anti-doping agency (WADA) a possible replacement for the AFLD.
According to French daily L'Equipe, Prudhomme said it was up to the UCI to ensure that the AFLD is replaced with an anti-doping body that will ensure stringent testing procedures at this year's edition of the race.
Though accepting that anti-doping at the Tour de France is the UCI's responsibility, Prudhomme suggested that WADA could be a candidate for that role.
"WADA may play this role but it is not up to us to decide," Prudhomme said on Tuesday. "As in all sports, the responsibility for controls rests with [the international federation]."
A partnership between the UCI and AFLD to carry out testing on French soil fell into disarray last year amid accusations from both sides of inadequacies in each other's testing procedures. The net result of the war of words was a declaration late last year from UCI President Pat McQuaid that his organisation would no longer work with the AFLD and, in particular, at the Tour de France.
McQuaid last week confirmed to Reuters that the UCI had been in contact with WADA over the possibility of a partnership being formed with the global anti-doping agency for testing at the Tour de France.
"In July, the UCI will carry out the tests and we are in discussion with WADA so that it sends its observers to supervise the UCI's work during the race," said McQuaid, who was in Australia for the Tour Down Under. "The Tour de France is the biggest cycling event in the world and we want to preserve it."
While not weighing into the debate between the UCI and AFLD, Prudhomme said an independent testing organisation must be found in order to protect the reputation of the world's biggest annual sporting event.
"We, the organisers, must ensure the smooth running of the Tour de France. What we want is an impartial system that leaves itself open to the least criticism," he said.