Increased drug testing at Tour Down Under

Blood profiling and target testing at first ProTour event of the season

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Monday announced anti-doping initiatives to be used at this month's Tour Down Under in Australia.

The initiatives are being implemented in partnership with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and Events South Australia, where the tour will be held, ASADA said in a statement.

The 2008 Tour Down Under, from January 22-27, is the first stop on the UCI-sanctioned world professional cycling calendar and the first time that a UCI-sanctioned ProTour event has been held in Australia.

ASADA said among the anti-doping initiatives were mandatory blood profiling of every cyclist before the event. The authority said it will also conduct comprehensive and targeted urine testing before and during the event and place selected samples in ASADA's deep freeze storage facility to enable future retesting with new technology.

ASADA said it will also share intelligence with the Australian Customs Service to enhance the interception at the border of any prohibited substances destined for the tour and investigation of those involved. ASADA chairman Richard Ings said Australia's peak anti-doping authority was implementing every measure at its disposal to deter drug use at the international cycling event.

"Clean cyclists coming to the Tour Down Under can rest assured this will be an event where those contemplating doping will face greater scrutiny than ever before," Ings said in a statement. "Through a combination of blood and urine testing, long term storage of selected samples and existing partnerships with border control and law enforcement agencies, any professional cyclist attempting to dope at this event will face severe consequences."

UCI president Pat McQuaid said the UCI, ASADA and the event organisers were working closely and indicated that this was a model for future cooperation between international sport and government.

"These initiatives to protect the Tour Down Under from doping are a demonstration of what can be achieved when international sport and governments work cooperatively together," McQuaid said in the statement. "UCI is absolutely committed to eliminating doping from our sport and we are pleased to partner with such a determined anti-doping body as ASADA to protect the integrity of cycling in Australia."

© AFP 2007

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