Cost of UCI drug testing forces Women’s Tour of New Zealand cancellation
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Cost of UCI drug testing forces Women’s Tour of New Zealand cancellation

by Ben Atkins at 5:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Oceania loses its only non-championship UCI women’s race; men’s event still to go ahead

evelyn stevensThe Women’s Tour of New Zealand will not take place in 2013, due to the increased cost of International Cycling Union (UCI) drug testing, according to stuff.co.nz. According to race director Jorge Sandoval, in the wake of the Armstrong scandal, the UCI will not allow testing to be carried out by the national anti-doping agency, and the race must bear the cost of it being carried out by the UCI.

"The UCI won't allow Drug Free Sport New Zealand [DFSNZ] to conduct tests in UCI events in New Zealand,” he explained. “This means they will sent a UCI drugs inspector to New Zealand, we will have to import all testing devices from overseas, do at least 20 tests during the five days of racing, get a license to export human samples overseas, send all samples to a laboratory in Sydney to be tested all at our cost, this is approximately $30,000 per event.

"Although we cannot afford these costs, I fully understand the sport has to take a tough stance and the UCI has no option but to take the lead in finding drug cheats,” he continued. “I am all out for drug testing but we have to put everything into perspective."

"For me this is a hard decision for cycling in New Zealand, especially when we have a very professional organisation in this country such as DFSNZ who do a very good job testing sportsman from all activities all the time,” Sandoval added.

The women’s Tour of New Zealand has been run alongside a men’s event for a number of years, with drug controls handled by DFSNZ, and has had no problems, as Sandoval explained.

"After hundreds of tests over the last twenty six years, we have never found any rider positive,” he said. “I think the UCI is using these resources at the wrong end of cycling, they should concentrate these efforts more in the pro tour peloton."

Because of this increased cost, Sandoval has been forced to cancel this year’s edition of the women’s race, which was due to be held between February 20th and 24th; he is hopeful that the race will return next year, however.

"My team and I had been working hard over the last few months to avoid this but reality must set in,” he said. “Hopefully if the UCI changes their criteria for doping control in countries like New Zealand we can bring back the women's tour in 2014 bigger and better than before.

"I am not very happy doing this but I rather have one good race than two half ones, now I will put all my efforts in staging another very successful NZCT men's international tour in Manawatu."

The loss of the Tour means that - outside the national and continental championships - there will be no UCI-sanctioned women’s races in the entire continent of Oceania in 2013. The race has had a star-studded winners list since 2005, with Judith Arndt taking two editions of the race, as well as American’s Kristin Armstrong, Shelley Olds and Evie Stevens (pictured) winning one each; Stevens won the 2012 edition by a single second over Australian Shara Gillow.

The race has been used as a warm-weather preparation race for the European spring in recent years; stuff.co.nz also points out that 15 of the 71-strong 2012 peloton went on to represent their countries in the London Olympics, including time trial gold and silver medallists Armstrong and Arndt, and fourth place New Zealander Linda Villumsen.

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