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UCI to examine shortening major tours

On the day when the 2007 Tour de France was revealed to be more than 3500 km long, the UCI's manager of the ProTour, Alain Rumpf, said that if reducing the length of major tours will help in the fight against doping, the organisation will take action, reports the Associated Press. "If the UCI audit shows that the length or the difficulty of the major tours is identified as a factor (in doping), the UCI will not hesitate to act." The ProTour calendar currently includes the three major tours, the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta Espana, but organisers of the tours are in seeking to be removed from the ProTour.

Recent doping scandals involving major tour winners Roberto Heras, who tested positive for EPO during the 2005 Vuelta Espana, and Floyd Landis, who tested positive for testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France, have spurred the UCI to find ways to prevent future problems. The manager of the UCI's anti-doping program, Anne Gripper, sees increased out-of-competition tests as a possible path. "We want to increase and improve out-of-competition tests," said Gripper, "the element of surprise is important."

The moves were announced during a meeting of the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP), which also put forth the use of DNA testing as a method to deter the use of illegal blood doping methods. "We hope this will be very useful to us," Gripper said. "But there are legal questions to explore before we can use this."

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.