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A growing consensus against doping within professional cycling appears to be growing after the International Cycling Union and the pro teams' association, the AIGCP, agreed a raft of measures designed to beef up the fight against dope cheats. Details of the proposals were released at the Worlds in Salzburg on Saturday, and include a controversial proposal to test riders' blood samples up to half an hour before the start of races.
The move comes in the wake of a series of doping scandals involving many of the sport's leading riders that have often made cycling a laughing stock. Faced with the departure of sponsors, fans and credibility from the sport, the teams have thankfully decided to take rapid and what will hopefully be hard-hitting action.
As a first step, the AIGCP has agreed that ProTour teams will automatically suspend themselves if their riders test positive or return suspicious readings. "In the event that a team is confronted with several positive tests or abnormal readings from tests from riders, the team will automatically suspend its activity," said the AIGCP.
After a first warning but following a UCI hearing, a team will be obliged to pull out of racing for a minimum of eight days if two positive doping tests, after confirmation with testing of a B sample, or suspicious readings emerge inside a period of 12 months. Three positive tests inside two years will lead to suspension from all ProTour races for a month. The same rule will apply with abnormal blood readings. A fourth offence will lead to a team losing its ProTour licence.
"It's just not acceptable that a team can accumulate an impressive number of doping problems without facing any kind of sanction," said Crdit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay.
The UCI, meanwhile, has revealed it is studying whether to oblige riders to submit DNA samples as it attempts to combat blood doping and other offences.
UCI president Pat McQuaid has also called for World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound to be replaced because of his "consistent but unjustified" attacks on cycling. "Mr Pound has lost his credibility. He knows very well how much the UCI is doing to fight doping but continues to constantly criticise us instead of working with us. It's an attitude I can't understand," McQuaid said in Salzburg.
"He is just after publicity, and doesn't stop attacking cycling. He is trying to kill off cycling. For the UCI, the sooner he is replaced the better. His attitude is just unacceptable," declared the Irishman of Pound.
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