By Greg Johnson
A concerned World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound has announced an anti-doping summit specifically targeted at cycling, branding recent measures taken to counter the sport's problems as "obviously insufficient". However, while supporting any effort to solve the problem of doping, a responding press release from the UCI has signaled tension between the two bodies.
"Without commenting on the specifics of pending cases, WADA is deeply concerned by the multiplication of doping cases and affairs in cycling," a statement from WADA read. "Even recent initiatives taken by cycling authorities, such as a pledge against doping and increased pressure, are obviously insufficient to deter some riders from cheating.
"We need to hold such a meeting urgently to see what more can be done to restore the credibility and integrity of cycling."
The WADA summit comes after a troublesome fortnight under the spotlight of cycling's biggest stage – the Tour de France. This year's Tour has been dogged by doping controversy, starting with Rabobank's now relieved Michael Rasmussen, who was under fire for not lodging his whereabouts to anti-doping officials on numerous occasions, followed by the expulsion of both the Astana and Cofidis ProTour squads, following non-negative A samples from Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Cristian Moreni (Cofidis).
"WADA will officially contact the parties involved in the next few days to offer to hold this summit," said WADA director general David Howman. "Because WADA is an independent international body and has a structure which is an equal partnership between the sports movement and governments of the world, we are uniquely positioned to co-ordinate the fight against doping and bring together the strengths and resources of all of these partners involved.
"We are willing to further assist cycling in finding solutions to the doping issue."
The UCI hit back at a critical WADA, with a press release from the Switzerland-based governing body saying: "WADA is now criticising the UCI for having found banned substances, which is the consequence of any effective anti-doping campaign, and is preparing to stage a show trial instigated by its President Richard Pound, who during the Tour de France, has constantly made condescending comments about cycling.
"The same Richard Pound, under threat of a libel complaint, retracted previous statements by sending a letter to The Guardian newspaper confirming in particular that: 'I acknowledge that with the information that I now have, my opinion is that the UCI is not turning a blind eye to doping. On the contrary, the UCI is committed to fight doping in cycling. I would have made it clear that the UCI has indeed a watchful eye on the matter of doping'."
In the UCI's release the organisation welcomed the announcement of WADA's moves to help solve the sport's doping issues. The UCI also declared its willingness to participate in such discussions "in a constructive manner and under acceptable conditions".
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