By Kirsten Robbins, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney
USA Cycling has claimed it never received any instructions to organize tests for the doping agent EPO at the 2006 Tour of California, even though the race organizer has confirmed this request was made by the event's lead sponsor, Amgen, the biotechnology firm that is one of the world's largest manufacturers of the drug.
Sean Petty, the chief operating officer for USAC, told Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins, "Had I been asked a follow-up question in the press conference (see report), I would have been happy to respond with what I know about the anti-doping requests of last year's Tour of California".
Petty said USA Cycling "can and does request blood tests or EPO tests for races, but unless a request is made (by the race organizer), only standard anti-doping procedures are used. It is the UCI's prerogative to do further types of testing anywhere else".
Petty then clarified the situation somewhat: "There were no specific requests for EPO testing from AEG or Medallist Sports that came to USA Cycling, and I am not sure if a request was made or if it just didn't get to us. No paperwork went through us and we did not know anything about the anti-doping procedures that were happening at the Tour of California last year."
It's understood that the USAC does not govern or decide anti-doping test measures, nor do they decide where they are practiced during the cycling events in the USA. It is the UCI or USADA that determine the testing procedures during cycling events.
"The UCI figures out where to test, how many tests to do and whether it is inside or outside of competition testing," Petty said. "A lot of that is to protect the effectiveness of the testing."
The issue of the race's lead sponsor's anti-doping request being ignored was revealed on the eve of the second edition of the Tour of California by New York Times reporter Ed Wyatt. His report stated that Amgen had specifically requested these tests of race owner Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).
Although Petty made no response to questions about the revelations during the pre-race press conference last Saturday, he later said many of the questions were directed toward race director Jim Birrell of Medalist Sports, AEG's contractor that runs the race for the LA based firm.