DNA tests controversial among riders

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Despite recent declarations coming from a key meeting of the AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Teams) held Wednesday in Paris on the eve of the presentation of the Tour de France, where the teams agreed to use DNA testing to combat doping, it's not clear if the AIGCP and its member teams have the legal authority or consensus among riders to implement this. "The agreement was unanimous," AIGCP President Patrick Lefévère and manager of Team Quick.Step-Innergetic told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We can not force the riders to agree to our request, but who refuses will have to assume the consequences. For example, a team could decide not to renew their contract."

Currently racing in the Grenoble 6-Day race, World Champion Paolo Bettini of Lefévère's Team Quick.Step-Innergetic scoffed at the idea of submitting to DNA testing. Bettini told La Gazzetta dello Sport's Luigi Perna that "DNA testing for riders is absurd, as is the idea to exclude riders (from ProTour teams) who are only under investigation. If they refuse to hire riders who are under investigation, the same should hold true for the managers, team directors, coaches and doctors who have had problems. And to make DNA testing obligatory is even more unacceptable! They only do that to serial killers; maybe whoever came up with this idea is watching too much TV. Since 1997 we have had to be available for blood testing, but now they are talking about violating all of our personal rights. Yeah, someone might want to take a DNA test to show their innocence and if they do, I'll tip my hat to them."

Bettini also had hard words for the AIGCP, saying "It's total hypocrisy that these rules are coming from the teams. Even the team managers need to be regulated." Bettini's countryman Giampaolo Caruso isn't as stoic as the World Champ, as the former Liberty Seguros rider is so desperate to get a contract for 2007 that he has agreed to submit to a DNA test, the first rider to get the OK from the UCI to do so. "I want to race again", Caruso explained simply.

T-Mobile Team's spokesman Luuc Eisenga weighed in for the German ProTour squad on the DNA testing issue, explaining "We believe that without a DNA test, (Ivan) Basso can't sign a contract with a ProTour team," but Basso's attorney Massimo Martelli responded that "for Ivan or any rider to submit to a DNA test imposed by their team is anti-ethical and against justice, but Basso might consider it."

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