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Tour de France vows to continue fight against doping

By Julien Pretot
July 31, 2007 00:21 IST
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The Tour de France packed up on Sunday but the doping scandals that hit the world's greatest stage race will not vanish into thin air.

Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have vowed to continue the fight against the sport's blight and have no intention of waiting until next year.

"I am not downcast and I am all the more determined to go all the way in this fight," ASO president Patrice Clerc said after Alexander Vinokourov was sent packing with his Astana team following a positive test for blood doping.

"It may seem paradoxical but we are closing in on victory. I have been saying we have started a merciless war against doping.

"We live in dark times and it is out of the question to give up, it is out of the question to leave the place to those who cheat."

Clerc has already said he did not want the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sports' world governing body, to be involved in the race.

The ASO and UCI have been at odds since 2005 when the Tour organisers refused to be part of the UCI Pro-Tour, a series of races throughout the season. Now they are at war.

"We will no longer work together with the UCI, there will be special rules for the Tour de France," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said.

"The UCI never wanted a clean tour. With all respect, it's worthless. But next year it's likely we will have a clean tour."

Under UCI Cycling Regulations, Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, who was sacked by his Rabobank team for lying about his training whereabouts and left the Tour when he was in the lead, should not have been allowed to start the race.


UCI president Pat McQuaid said article XIV.8.220 stating that "a rider who has received a recorded warning (...) in a 45-day period before a major Tour" will not be allowed "to participate in that Tour" was too harsh.

Clerc said: "In any society, public or private, those responsible would have no choice but to resign.

"The UCI, by the way it has acted, has at the very least lacked clarity, transparency, professionalism, competence and in every case has shown a complete lack of conscience.

"We don't want this system. We need to be independent of people who are either incompetent or have the desire to spoil (the race), to hurt the Tour de France."

Clerc said he wanted to select the teams for the 2008 Tour on performance but also on ethical grounds.

"I told the riders before the start that this was a fantastic opportunity for renewal," said Prudhomme.

"That has failed. But the cheats must understand that they are playing Russian roulette. We are utterly determined."

Italy's Cristian Moreni, who tested positive for the male sex hormone testosterone, said he acted on his own but the determination of some teams is reflected in his own team Cofidis who immediately pulled out of the race last Wednesday.

"It is a war and as in any war, there is collateral damage," said Prudhomme.

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Julien Pretot
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