CYCLING CHIEFS AGREE TO WORK TOGETHER TO FIGHT DOPING
UCI president Pat McQuaid (pictured), Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme and teams' representative Patrick Lefevere announced on Friday in Switzerland that they will work together to fight the problem of doping in professional cycling.
Although the announcement offered little detail of how they will resolve the serious problems threatening cycling, the big three finally seemed to have realized that they must put their individual interests to one side and forget their many other disputes if they are to save the long-term future and credibility of professional cycling.
"This meeting is the expression of a common will to act against doping. I would not use the term 'historic' but it is a very important date. We can afford to disagree on all issues except this one," Prudhomme said in a press conference after the meeting.
Patrick Lefevere said teams had agreed not to select any rider suspected of wrongdoing, regardless of the legal implications.
"It is a risk we must take. The ideal way would be for justice to go all the way but it could take one or two years and by then, our sport would be dead," he said.
The three agreed to use the same lawyer to defend themselves against the legal implications of their decisions and warned riders that out of competition tests before this year’s Tour de France would be increased "like never before".
"We warn riders who would be tempted to cheat that we won't miss them," said Prudhomme, who said the other riders who were involved in Operacion Puerto will soon be caught and identified.
"German justice showed us that there were ways to confound the riders and solid ground on which to act against the cheaters. Pretty soon, we may have similar results regarding another prominent rider," Prudhomme said.
Pat McQuaid confirmed that sanctions would be taken once the UCI had legal access to the whole Puerto investigation and could identify the 52 riders involved in the investigation.
"If great riders have to be excluded, the will is there. Other riders will replace them. Clean riders," McQuaid said optimistically.