French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot announced at the start of stage 2 of the Tour de France in Brussels that she'll organise a meeting on July 9 with representatives of the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) regarding the controls conducted at the Tour de France and further races.
"We have some legal issues to resolve," she told reporters. "There are misunderstandings to clear up. The AFLD is well present at the Tour de France. WADA said that, shall the AFLD conduct additional testing, athletes could not appeal to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport). We understood that they could because the controls are under the UCI. So we'll clarify the matter."
Bachelot added that these misunderstanding would not affect the fight against drugs. "The organisation of the controls is good and they are conducted by qualified and competent people," she said. "The laboratory in Lausanne has proven to be reliable."
The French anti-doping system includes a tight link between the AFLD and the laboratory of Chatenay-Malabry where the samples were tested in the past. It's not the case this year because positive tests would be considered internationally invalid. Behind the clarification of the misunderstanding, it might also be a question of bringing back to the Parisian laboratory the anti-doping business in the future. The LNDD (Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage) is underemployed this month of July, having lost the analysis of the 500 samples of the Tour de France.
"The sport of cycling is honoured by this active fight against drugs," Bachelot said. "There was a lot to do but this sport is recovering."
The French sports minister took a breath of fresh air after dealing with all the troubles of the national team at the football World Cup in South Africa.
"To come to the Tour de France is a source of real happiness," Bachelot said. "I've made a childhood dream come true this morning as I gave a kiss to Eddy Merckx. Belgium is the other homeland of cycling. There were 1.5 million spectators yesterday on the roadsides for stage 1. Here we realize that the international impact of the Tour goes way beyond the French heritage."
Bachelot didn't follow the stage to Spa as she is also the health minister and she was in Brussels for a pharmaceutical congress. She was a pharmacist in Angers in the Loire Valley before becoming a full-time politician. She'll come back to the Tour on Thursday for stage 5 and at the Tourmalet as well, once the misunderstanding are clarified with the different authorities.
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