The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) is in discussions with the International Cycling Union (UCI) to partner with the sport's governing body in performing the doping controls at Paris-Nice and the Tour de France.
New AFLD president Bruno Genevois confirmed today in a joint press conference with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) head John Fahey that negotiations are in the beginning stages.
"Contacts have been renewed and we can hope for a good outcome in March," Genevois said, according to AP. "Discussions between the AFLD and UCI are still ongoing and I can't tell you more for the moment, but we are hopeful."
With the exit of the AFLD's former president Pierre Bordry, the two agencies have an opportunity to mend the contentious relationship which erupted over the past few years.
In 2008, due to a number of factors, the Tour de France organizer (ASO) chose to run the race outside the control of the UCI, using the French cycling federation as the sanctioning organization and the AFLD for doping controls.
That year, the AFLD successfully uncovered several riders using CERA, a new form of the blood booster EPO, and found seven riders positive for doping during the race.
When the UCI and ASO mended fences in 2009, the UCI and AFLD cooperated in the anti-doping efforts at the race, but Bordry was highly critical of the UCI's efforts after the event, accusing the governing body of preferential treatment of Lance Armstrong's Astana team and calling UCI's controls "predictable and ineffective".
UCI president Pat McQuaid issued a 12-page report to WADA defending the programme, and in a less delicate statement to the press, called Bordry's accusations "pure bullshit".
The UCI then tried to block the AFLD from performing additional testing at the 2010 Tour, but after a compromise brokered by WADA, the French agency was ultimately allowed to order a number of targeted tests based upon information it had gathered. The UCI also agreed to let WADA send independent observers to report on the anti-doping procedures.
Bordry stepped down from his post in September before WADA issued its independent observer's report, which called the UCI's program generally "of good quality", but found numerous deficiencies.
WADA's Fahey expressed his support for a combined effort between the UCI and ALFD at the Tour de France. "I sincerely hope that there is clearly an opportunity ... to use AFLD," he said. "The world watches the Tour de France because of its past history, and I sincerely hope that ultimately we have a wonderful event which is not mired in doping. That's what I seek as an outcome."
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