AFLD says 2008 Tour results are clear, but blasts the UCI again over 2009 race
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

AFLD says 2008 Tour results are clear, but blasts the UCI again over 2009 race

by Conal Andrews at 9:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

The president of French anti-doping agency today confirmed that samples belonging to 17 riders from the 2008 Tour de France have been pronounced clear for signs of the third generation EPO CERA.

"The 17 samples that the AFLD re-examined are all negative," he told the media at a press conference.

Pierre Bordry had indicated in recent days that up to 40 riders were suspected of doping in the race and that the retests would take between one and two weeks. The speed and clean outcome of today’s announcement was therefore a surprise to some, particularly with some high-profile riders having been named in foreign media reports as being suspected.

CERA tests were originally introduced during the 2008 event. The substance had previously been thought to be undetectable, and so several riders were caught out when surprise tests were brought in. Stage winners Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher, as well as third place finisher and King of the Mountains Bernhard Kohl were all disqualified for using that substance, while several other riders were ejected for other products.

Despite today’s news that the samples were all clear, the press conference nevertheless produced some controversy. Bordry repeated his criticism earlier this week of the way the UCI’s doping control officers acted during this year’s Tour, saying they were unprofessional.

"The controls were not carried out in conformation with the rules. We have fallen back to what it was like in 2003," the German news agency SID quoted him as saying. “Manipulations were possible.” He also said that there was no real collaboration between the UCI and AFLD.

Perhaps the most serious accusation made was that the UCI favoured the Astana squad, giving preferential treatment to the team of Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong.

`I have nothing against Astana, but everything depends on how the inspections were carried out,” the Frenchman said, referring to the morning blood controls. “It was strange that Astana was controlled last. That was not professional, "said Bordry.

The UCI already rejected the criticism expressed earlier this week, the international federation accusing the AFLD of being unprofessional. It has threatened to cease working with the agency and find what it termed was a new 'neutral' partner.

Bordry is not impressed. “What do you mean neutral - when the controllers don't say anything and aren't allowed to publish anything? I respect [Pat] McQuaid as a person but not his words."

The AFLD is still working on plans to reanalyse samples from the 2009 Tour. Bordry has said that he believes that two new drugs were used, namely Hematide, a currently-undetectable form of EPO, and a substance called AICAR. The latter enhances fat burning and boosts endurance. Tests for both are being developed.


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