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ProTour teams decide auto suspension

By Hedwig Kröner

Over the week-end in Salzburg, Austria, the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) have met to discuss amendments to the Code of Ethics of the professional sport's top calendar, the ProTour. To contribute to the fight against doping on a greater scale, the UCI ProTeams represented by the new group created out of the AIGCP (association of professional cycling teams) are now committed to suspending the whole of their activities in case of two positive anti-doping results and/or abnormal blood controls over a period of 12 months.

As of the date of knowledge of the second positive control or pronounced unfitness to race, the concerned team will be suspended as a whole during eight days. However, the auto suspension will not be immediate (even if the doping offense breaks during a ProTour race), but begin on the first day of the next ProTour event, except for the three Grand Tours.

In case there are three positive anti-doping results and/or abnormal blood controls (over a period of 24 months), the auto suspension will cover a period of four weeks, and include the three Grand Tours.

The question of whether or not the events of the three Grand Tour organisers will still be included in the series next year is not clear at this time. In a letter dated September 12, Tour de France organiser ASO asked the UCI to put these races on a separate calendar, but the World governing body of cycling refused, and announced that it would submit the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On the fourth positive test result and/or declared unfitness to race for a rider, the new regulations, still to be approved by the UCI ProTour council, foresee the withdrawal of the ProTour license of the team implicated in the affairs.

Furthermore, a number of other proposals have been made to the UCI, which will tighten the grip on the professional riders. The IPCT has asked the UCI to discuss the creation of a DNA data base of all professional riders, to increase and improve out-of-competition controls and to limit the number of 'therapeutic use exemptions' (TUE), allowing riders to use certain prohibited drugs to treat illnesses. It also asked to "prohibit TUE's of kindness", and to limit the infiltrations of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids to a maximum of two per year.

In addition, the pressure on the riders will be increased on a legal level. The ProTour teams are committed to integrate a clause for DNA research in the riders contracts, allowing them to ask for a gene sample at their request if the rider is implicated in a legal investigation. The new contracts will also include a clause on the possibility of lawsuit in case of a doping affair, which would affect the image of the team and therefore possibly result in the payment of damages.

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