The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Thursday reopened a war of words with the French anti-doping agency AFLD in blasting an AFLD report which suggested the Union had favoured the Astana team in the Tour de France.
The French earlier this month released a critical report suggesting the UCI gave an easy ride to the team of star riders Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador but the UCI blasted the allegation as "totally unfounded" and hinted they would in future seek a "neutral" partner for doping tests carried out in France.
French media suggested strongly that Astana enjoyed preferential treatment from drug-testers at the race including flexibility on the time of the test, and the UCI hit out once again at the insinuations.
"The UCI did not actually need the services of AFLD. The role of the AFLD according to the agreement was modest. In short, they provided the doctors to assist our Doping Control Officers. The UCI also agreed to collaborate on targeted testing before and during the event, based on our respective information sources.
"While the UCI Anti-Doping programme always welcomes independent and professional scrutiny, the AFLD did not seek that role in the agreement with the UCI.
"The AFLD's unilateral decision to conduct an informal observer programme, with the unfortunate result of an untimely, incomplete, misinformed and inaccurate report is puzzling and disappointing. It calls into question the motives of AFLD," the UCI noted.
"Now that the Tour is over, it is even more evident that Astana received absolutely no special treatment, except in the sense of their riders being subject to considerably more doping controls than other riders," the UCI went on.
"In fact the top individual Astana riders received more than three times the number of tests of most other riders in the race."
The UCI concluded in a further barb that "it is important for everyone to understand that AFLD is far from perfect in the implementation of their own anti-doping activities.
"By the start of the Tour, UCI had conducted 190 out-of competition tests on riders short listed for the Tour, while AFLD had conducted 13 tests. Of these, six were on French riders whom they have access to test all year round. But of great significance is that five of the samples collected from riders in the same French team, were sent to the laboratory with the full names and details of the riders.
"This completely invalidates the anonymous chain of custody requirements of the Code and International Standard of Testing."
The UCI further complained it had to endure "a lack of confidentiality from AFLD" and several UCI international races went without adequate doping control because of the failure of AFLD to fulfil their commitment to the French Cycling Federation and the UCI to send doctors to conduct testing."
© 2009 AFP