WADA withdraws Worlds involvement; UCI to expand anti-doping pledge

By Shane Stokes

Following rumours in recent days that WADA would pull out of its involvement in this year's world road race championships, it was confirmed on Wednesday that the agency would no longer play a role in the anti-doping measures in Stuttgart.

According to AFP, WADA sent a letter to both the steering committee and the German Ministry of the Interior regarding its decision. WADA confirmed to Cyclingnews Wednesday that the reason for the decision was because it had not been officially requested by the UCI to play a part in the testing there. "To participate in an event organized by an independent federation in any fashion, WADA needs a formal invitation from the independent federation responsible early enough prior to that event," clarified Frédéric Donzé of WADA.

"WADA never conducts in-competition tests," said Donzé. "WADA has an out-of-competition testing program that complements the international federations' programs to help them fulfill their responsibility under the World Anti-Doping Code."

At the start of July, the German Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble told German paper Tagesspiegel that he would prefer WADA to conduct the doping controls, rather than any federation.

Long-running tensions between the UCI and WADA chairman Dick Pound resurfaced during this year's Tour, with Pound saying that the UCI was not trying hard enough to eliminate doping. He said that he wanted to convene a meeting with the major players in cycling about the subject. However this was dismissed by the UCI on the grounds that it felt that Pound was doing so simply for the purposes of political mud-slinging.

WADA, the UCI and others may take part in a major summit in October. Richard Pound, president of WADA, met Tuesday in Paris, with Roselyne Bachelot, French Minister for Health, Youth and Sports, according to L'Equipe.

In early August, the UCI undertook to conduct a vastly improved battery of tests, both before and during the Worlds. It agreed to carry out 200 controls before the championships and 150 during the event. This was more than double the level of previous years.

Cyclingnews asked UCI President Pat McQuaid Sunday about WADA's withdrawal, which was heavily rumoured then but only confirmed on Wednesday. "It is not just because of the relationship with UCI, but also for financial reasons as well," he said, shortly after the finish of the Tour of Ireland in Dublin. "I don't know exactly what the reason is. But I don't think it will have any effect on the world championships. We have a steering committee which is working; we have a system in place with that steering committee to do a major number of out of competition controls by the UCI and with the national anti-doping agencies prior to the world championships."

He said that a major measure taken prior to the Tour de France would once again be used for the Worlds. "We have written to all the federations that will be taking part in the world championships, telling them that we want every rider who will be taking part in the championships to sign a pledge, similar to the one before the Tour. It will actually have to be slightly different for the Under 23 riders and the women, but it will be similar to the one we did for the ProTour teams before the Tour de France.

'We have already had many e-mails back from the Federation saying yes, they will do that, they will ensure all the riders signed the pledge and so forth. There are lots of things happening, already put in place for the world championships in Stuttgart. So whether or not WADA will be involved with the committee is not going to make any difference."

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