NICE, France (Reuters) - Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme on Sunday urged other international federations to investigate their sport after the UCI published an independent report into cycling’s ugly past last week.
Speaking to Reuters before the start of the last stage of Paris-Nice, Prudhomme said that cycling has been at the forefront of the fight against doping after years of scandals. The Frenchman welcomed the publication of the Independent Reform Commission’s report (CIRC), saying it showed that cycling, the sport that first implemented the biological passport in 2008, had the strength to deal with its problems.
“The report was ordered by the International Cycling Union. It exists because the management of the UCI wanted it,” Prudhomme said. “It shows that there have been improvements in a world that is not perfect. But the fight against doping is a permanent fight.”
The provisional suspension of France’s Lloyd Mondory earlier this week, after the Ag2r-La Mondiale rider failed an EPO test, came as a stern reminder that doping is yet to be eradicated. “We’re on the right track but we must not be complacent.” Prudhomme hinted that cycling was not the only sport with a doping problem. “Cycling cannot be singled out, you cannot just put it in a corner,” he explained. “I think that we all dream that all the international federations order an independent report to look into what’s going on in their patch.”
The CIRC report showed that doping was less prevalent but had not been completely eradicated with some riders still abusing corticoids and using micro-dosing to avoid detection.
The report has its shortcomings, however, with less than six percent of the interviewees being current professional riders. “I see that many people from the UCI have been interviewed, which is logical because it was the primary goal of the report, but it would not have been shocking to see more professional riders being interviewed,” Prudhomme added.
It took the UCI only four days to unveil a series of anti-doping recommendations and Prudhomme singled out one of them. “There are already a lot of measures -- just look at what cycling is doing compared with other sports,” he said. “But the cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry is I think a great leap forward which will bring quick results.”
Prudhomme faces the prospect of not having the defending champion start the world’s greatest cycling race on July 4 with Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team facing the prospect of losing their World Tour (elite) license in the wake of recent doping scandals.
The UCI requested that the Licence Commission -- who are expected to rule later this month -- revoke Astana’s World Tour status, which would mean the Kazakh-funded outfit would lose their automatic Tour spot.
Should the Commission strip Astana of their status, the team could appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), further delaying the process. “I hope for a quick resolution of this issue because we all know that it can drag along,” said Prudhomme. “I hope it will be shorter than usual.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot, Editing by Tom Hayward