Cookson: Rider fatigue at Tour de France shows doping controls work

In an interview with AFP, UCI president Brian Cookson has said that the levels of fatigue felt by the riders at this year’s Tour de France is proof that doping controls are more effective. The 2015 Tour de France was one of the toughest in recent years with seven high mountain stages, four of which were packed into the final week. A total of 160 riders completed the race, which is lower than the average of 165 in recent years – eight pulled out in the final four stages before Paris.

“I think we saw riders during the last Tour de France were very tired and one of the causes, in my opinion, is the increased efficiency of doping controls,” Cookson said during an IOC session in Kuala Lumpur. “No one likes to see someone exhausted, but I think that this is a demonstration that we have constantly tightened the meshes of doping controls.

“People must have this in mind when they launched allegations and aspersions on any rider and any team.”

Thus far there has been one positive test from the race with Luca Paolini (Katusha) testing positive for cocaine in the opening week. He has been provisionally suspended from his team. The second week of the race saw doping allegations and innuendo thrown around though, following the release of a video of Froome’s ascent of Mont Ventoux in 2013 with his data overlaid – data Sky claimed was hacked.

During stage 14 to Mende, a spectator threw urine at Froome and several of his teammates were subjected to spitting – Richie Porte was also reportedly punched during a stage. Froome later called out irresponsible reporting on the race for the reaction from the crowd, specifically certain aspects of the French media. Footage of a fan spitting on Froome during the penultimate stage to Alpe d’Huez was later published by Danish station TV2.

Earlier this week, Cookson dismissed criticism for not being vocal enough amidst the furore but told AFP, "There have been unfortunate incidents in the Tour this year, and it makes me very uncomfortable. In recent years, I have become increasingly worried about the fans who are on the edge of the road, pushing cyclists, etc. It has reached a point of real concern. I think Chris was the target of quite disgusting assaults by a small number of people.”

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