The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) could cease to exist if the nation's government does not provide the necessary funding for its continuation in 2010, according to the agency's president, Pierre Bordry.
The AFLD's 2010 budget, 8.7 million Euro, might be reduced by almost half this sum after the French government recently announced that it cancelled its plans to increase taxes on television rights in sports, which would have supplied the agency with 4 million Euro of its budget.
"If we have 4 million Euro less, we'll shut down," said AFLD president Pierre Bordry to French daily Le Monde last week. Bordry is still trying to solve the problem, but fears that his institution, already weakened by the recent death of its director Jacques de Ceauritz on January 5, may have to close down because of a lack of funding.
"The Agency's continuity and thus the fight against doping in France is in danger," he continued. "[Without the 4 million Euro] we won't be able to pay our staff [60 employees and 450 samples collectors] and we'll have to reduce the number of controls and analysis."
Because there is no guarantee that the AFLD will still obtain the promised finance, Bordry questioned his government's willingness to continue an independent fight against doping in sports. When the government announced its plans to increase TV rights taxes, senior officials of French soccer declared that it wasn't up to them to finance the fight against doping in France.
"We feel that certain sports organisations are disturbed by the independence and efficiency of the AFLD, and that some persons consider our actions to prejudice the spectacle of sports," Bordry said. "Certain national and international sports authorities would prefer that we tell them in advance who we're going to control and when. The fact that the government can't find a long-term solution to finance outr agency makes me doubt its real will to fight against doping in France."
Bordry still wants AFLD involvement with Tour testing
While Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said this week that it was up to the International Cycling Union (UCI) to find an anti-doping body to ensure testing procedures at this year's edition of the race, Bordry said that the AFLD still wanted to be involved with testing at the 2010 event.
The UCI confirmed that it has been in communication with the World anti-doping agency (WADA) regarding potential cooperation between the two at the 2010 event. However, despite the precarious financial situation of the AFLD, Bordry said that the organisation would mount their own appeal to the WADA in order to secure involvement in testing at the race.
"We will ask the WADA to apply article 15.1.1 of the Code that allows a national anti-doping organisation to perform additional controls on an international competition. But our resources have to be assured until then," he said.