McQuaid responds to French sports minister

UCI president Pat McQuaid has addressed an open letter to the French sports minister as well as WADA chief Dick Pound, in which he responded to recent comments about the UCI made in relation with the Spanish Operación Puerto affair. On Saturday, July 1, French sports minister Jean-François Lamour accused the UCI leader of not doing enough to fight doping in cycling.

"I think it's necessary to say this very clearly; the UCI is very timid on the issue," Lamour told French Europe 1 radio. "It will have to roll up its sleeves and act, so that on all continents and in all countries, there are real and unexpected control actions."

Lamour added that it was possible to compete in the Tour de France after taking illegal drugs and still not test positive because doping often occurred during race preparation. "In the Tour de France, only the naive ones get caught," he said, calling for more random doping controls throughout the year.

In his response, Pat McQuaid said that the comments were "completely unjustified", and that he "would like to remind the Minister that instead of making loose remarks on out-of-competition controls he should be coming up with concrete recommendations as to how he might improve the testing methods so that the kind of blood transfusion that was allegedly administered may be detected. The fact of the matter is that the riders implicated in Operation Puerto have been tested many times, including in the French laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry, both within and out of competition and have always proven negative."

The Irishman continued by saying that WADA conducted 189 out-of-competition tests on cyclists in 2005, of which only one result was positive for EPO, not blood transfusion. "So amount of out-of-competition controls would have assisted in identifying the practices being utilised in Spain: these are simply not detectable by doping controls," he stated.

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