WADA praises testing on Tour de France

In a report published yesterday, WADA said the International Cycling Union ran thorough tests but was too friendly with some riders, adding that more riders should be taken out of their comfort zone and tested late at night.

"The anti-doping programme at the 2010 Tour was of a good quality," WADA said. "The UCI's anti-doping programme has been forced to evolve rapidly over the past years due to the many instances of doping."

WADA's observers felt there was too much camaraderie with riders, and that a more ruthless approach is needed.

"Many people on the Tour and even those involved in anti-doping on the Tour have, at times, an unhealthy attachment to those competing," WADA said. "The IO (Independent Observers) Team observed a number of occasions where a more aggressive approach to testing riders outside of the Post-Finish sessions should have been undertaken."

Fearing that some testing methods are too predictable, WADA wants late-night testing that may catch cheats off guard, even though this could be a hugely unpopular move.

"The UCI would need to accept that if it truly wishes to take the fight against doping to a new level it will not necessarily receive compliments from all riders and teams," WADA said, adding that the UCI should centralise managing the results rather than delegating to national federations.

Alberto Contador won the Tour for the third time, but the Spaniard has since been provisionally suspended by the UCI after testing positive for the banned drug clenbuterol and could lose his title.

Contador claims the traces of the banned drug clenbuterol in his sample came from contaminated steak. He also denied that tests found traces of plastic residues indicating he might have undergone banned blood transfusions.

The Tour de France has been rocked by a succession of doping scandals.

American rider Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour title after testing positive for testosterone.

New tests for CERA - an advanced form of the blood-booster EPO - led to several riders being caught doping at the 2008 Tour. Among those was mountain-climbing specialist Bernhard Kohl of Austria, who has since been working with anti-doping officials to highlight just how widespread doping is in cycling.

WADA feels others sports are lagging way behind the UCI.

"There are very few anti-doping programmes delivered by International Federations that come close," WADA said.

But WADA thinks the UCI could improve by working more harmoniously with the French Anti-Doping Agency, given the AFLD's proven track record in catching Landis and uncovering the use of CERA.

The AFLD and the UCI have been at loggerheads over recent years, with the AFLD's former president, Pierre Bordry, criticising the UCI's anti-doping program and the UCI responding by cutting the AFLD out of this year's testing.

The AFLD was allowed to do further testing at this year's Tour, but only after WADA intervened.

"The lack of cooperation and trust evident between the UCI and the AFLD for the Tour was extremely disappointing to observe," WADA said. "Urgent talks should take place between the UCI and the AFLD to resolve the current impasse." 

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