MPCC calls on more teams to join its anti-doping movement
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Monday, April 08, 2013

MPCC calls on more teams to join its anti-doping movement

by Shane Stokes at 5:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Legeay favours a ‘Year Zero’ approach, but also a rigid enforcing of regulations from this point

MPCCFollowing an upsurge in requests for membership after the Lance Armstrong/US Postal Service scandal, the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible/MPCC [Movement for a Credible Cycling – ed.] has called on more teams to come on board and to submit to the tougher anti-doping regulations that it requires.

The MPCC, which was set up by former Crédit Agricole chief Roger Legeay and several pro teams on the eve of the 2007 Tour de France, has seen a substantial increase in interest, both from teams of different levels and also from race owners, sponsors, national federations and others.

According to Legeay, the sport would benefit greatly if other teams sign up.

“Let’s imagine it’s the case,” he said, being asked what would happen if all of the teams in cycling came on board. “Everybody would have to comply with the same rules. It would be better for cycling’s credibility that all teams follow harder rules. The more members the better.

“Before 2013, January 1st, we were said to have too few members, and today, they are four times the number of teams. Institutional sponsors as LCL and PMU – historical Tour de France sponsors – also have a voice at the General Assembly of MPCC. Federations also can attend our meetings. This is game-changing and improves the credibility of our movement.”

The MPCC comprises 39 teams, of which eleven are WorldTour squads. They are Ag2r La Mondiale, Argos Shimano, Astana, Blanco Pro Cycling, FDJ, Garmin Sharp, Katusha, Lampre Merida, Lotto Belisol, Orica GreenEdge and Vacansoleil DCM, of which Astana, Blanco, Katusha, Lampre-Merida and Vancansoleil DCM are currently in a one year probationary period prior to receiving full membership.

Eight WorldTour teams have not joined, namely the BMC Racing Team, Cannondale Pro Cycling, Euskaltel Euskadi, Movistar, Omega Pharma Quick Step, RadioShack Leopard, Sky Procycling and Saxo Tinkoff.

Those who have signed up have agreed to adhere to the following rules:

- to no longer allow a rider race when he has an initial positive test.
- to not sign up a rider who has a suspension of more than six months [with the exception of whereabouts cases] for a period of two years after the suspension.
- to not give corticoid injections without imposing a break from competition of eight days.
- to carry out internal procedures from the first positive case on a team.
- that a team should suspend itself automatically following several positive cases in a twelve month period.

Asked what he expected from those teams who have come on board, Legeay is clear: “That they respect the commitment made: team managers gave their word in front of everybody, at the general assembly. If one team’s conduct is improper, all MPCC members will have the right to say: ‘You have damaged our image.’

“We have a genuine legitimacy, as our movement relies on very specific items: a set of regulations, a strong commitment… Testing positive is concrete, but a layoff due to this positive control is also concrete. Today, MPCC proposes very concrete measures.”

‘Past issues belong in the past’:


One aspect that may be surprising to some is that while Legeay emphasises the clear importance of teams rejecting doping, he doesn’t favour excluding those with questionable pasts. “We are no court, and we don’t intend to be. We have no judicial power and membership can be granted to those wishing to [be part of it],” he said. “Past issues belong in the past, even though the teams may have to answer for it with the relevant authorities. But if new matters arise this year and after, they will be accountable to MPCC, the press, the public, the sponsors…”

The approach is akin to that of the Garmin Sharp team, which signed several riders in the past who had admitted to general manager Jonathan Vaughters that they had used banned substances earlier in their careers. In fact, Vaughters was in the same position himself, as was former pro Legeay. That stance differs to that of the Sky team, which said last autumn that it would seek to expel riders and staff who had any past connections to doping,

However while Sky has advocated a more rigid approach in that regard and insists that it is anti-doping in its stance, it is one of the WorldTour absentees from the MPCC.

Legeay hopes that it and other teams come on board. “Today, on their good faith, we want to welcome them to MPCC : ‘Join us and abide by harder rules,’” he said. “MPCC is meant to have teams joining to comply with a strong commitment, not rejecting these teams. Our goal is to complement the role of WADA, whom we called to implement more severe sanctions when the use of ‘heavy’ products is proved. Most people in cycling advocate longer suspension periods.”

Asked about the so-called ‘Year Zero’ concept that he advocates, Legeay said that he believes that for the MPCC at least, it is important to focus on the present and the future. “Looking at the past is not our mission – we have nor the means neither the mandate – this is the role of police, courts, sports bodies, WADA… Our goal is to make cycling more credible in the months and years to come,” he explained.

“Team managers are decision-makers in the sense that they have the means to act : suspend or lay off a rider, decide who to hire or not… National team managers can also make choices. We are talking about future, not past. Teams joining MPCC are committed in the eyes of the press, the sponsors, the federations… There is strength in numbers.

“The growing number of members is significant, and the starting point is 2013, January 1st. Whatever happened before is outside of the scope of MPCC, even though it is important to underline that some teams have been complying with MPCC rules for 6 years.”

If belonging to the MPCC doesn’t impact on the past, he’s clear that it does have an effect on the future. Legeay lists the benefits he expects as being fewer positive cases, greater fear for riders who are currently doping or considering doing it, and fewer future opportunities for those who take the decision anyway and who are caught.

“Joining MPCC is a commitment to all, a complete transparency,” he said. “This is why I think that everybody will stand by his word. It has been the case since the beginning of the year. The best evidence is the testing for corticosteroids that went well during Paris-Nice.”

Importantly, race directors such as Tour de France organisers ASO have said that they will prioritise MPCC teams when they are selecting those to be invited to their races. Other organisers have also followed suit, as have sponsors and federations. If momentum continues to grow and the rules are firmly enforced, the movement will bring an important extra element to the anti-doping fight.

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