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AFLD delayed in pre-Tour de France doping controls

Due to the ongoing dispute between the UCI and race organizers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the Tour de France will not benefit from the biological passport program for riders run by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Instead, it has been attempting to enhance a passport programme run by the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) to support anti-doping testing throughout the three-week race.

AFLD president Pierre Bordry indicated that traditional Tour de France controls will still be analyzed by the laboratory in Lausanne, also charged with analyzing UCI passport controls, by the same method. "The results of these pre-Tour tests will be added to a blood passport," he said to the AFP.

The AFLD has been faced with some challenges in acquiring the pre-competition data it needs to perform the passport controls during the competition. The agency said Wednesday that it had completed 30 controls of anticipated starters or half the pre-competition tests it envisioned leading.

"All the riders are located," said Bordry of the obligation of riders to furnish location information per the contract signed by ASO and the 20 invited teams. Some riders have been controlled multiple times.

Without access to the UCI's passport program data, AFLD has to get its own data, including controls that must be performed both inside and outside of its territory. "In order to control foreign [non-French - ed.] teams, we are working with national agencies and WADA."

Of his agency's efforts, Bordry said, "This is not a gift to the UCI but is for the good of cycling." The agency is operating without information from the UCI's program, including the names of the 23 cyclists with questionable results

As reported in L'Equipe last Friday, the population of controls collected during the Tour will be split. Some will be sent to Lausanne for testing for human growth hormone, a substance believed to have been used by some athletes during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The lab in Châtenay-Malabry does not have the technique for such testing.

The 2007 Tour de France was marked by many doping scandals including that of Dane Michael Rasmussen, who was excluded from the race while wearing the yellow leader's jersey after it was discovered that he failed to disclose truthful information about his whereabouts as required for anti-doping controls. The entire Astana team also withdrew from the race after positive doping tests by Alexander Vinokourov.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

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