The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have turned down a request from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD), who wanted to carry out their own drug tests at the Tour de France.
Although responsibility for drug testing at the Tour rests with the International Cycling Union (UCI), the French agency approached WADA hoping to carry out around 60 extra tests at the July 3-25 race.
AFLD said their approach was motivated by the fact that it has, as they claim "access to confidential information from the police and customs that it cannot share with other organisations," enabling them to undertake targeted testing. They also raised doubts about the effectiveness of the tests carried out by the UCI, with whom the AFLD is at war following their disastrous partnership at last year's race.
WADA decided on wednesday not to grant authorisation to the AFLD to carry out additional tests during the 2010 Tour de France. The international agency emphasised that French law did not totally confirm with the global anti-doping code, and expressed concern that the results of AFLD drug tests could potentially lead to legislative stalemates.
WADA did however propose that the AFLD could submit a list of riders they hoped to target, with a view to UCI testers carrying out tests on them under the eye of independent observers from WADA.
The UCI and AFLD have been at loggerheads for several years over the subject of doping tests at the Tour de France. In 2009 the AFLD accused the UCI of showing favouritism towards Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, with reports claiming their Astana team kept UCI doping inspectors waiting for nearly an hour as samples were sought.
The previous year, the AFLD carried out the majority of doping controls at the Tour, leading to a total of seven riders being caught using CERA, a new variant of the banned blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin). After last year's accusations by the AFLD, the UCI invited WADA to send independent observers to the Tour de France as they did for the last Olympics.
Boonen leads Quick Step into Tour de France
Belgium's Tom Boonen, winner of six Tour de France stages and the 2007 green jersey, will lead Quick Step's challenge at this year's race. Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel and Jerome Pineau also take their places in a team dominated by Boonen's compatriots.
Belgian climber Kevin Seeldrayers, who won the best young rider's jersey at the 2009 Tour of Italy, is also poised to make his Tour de France debut.
Quick Step team for the Tour de France:
Carlos Barredo (ESP), Tom Boonen (BEL), Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Kevin De Weert (BEL), Jerome Pineau (FRA), Kevin Seeldrayers (BEL), Jurgen Van de Walle (BEL), Maarten Wynants (BEL)
Reserves: Kevin Hulsmans (BEL), Wouter Weylandt (BEL)
Buy the Official Tour de France Survival Pack for just £9.99 here.
© AFP 2010