PARIS (AFP) — Tour de France organizers on Wednesday gave their backing to the “clean cycling” union, as part of moves to stamp out doping that has blighted the sport.
Two days after the UCI stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour titles and banned him for life for doping, race director Christian Prudhomme said he had asked all team managers to join the organization.
Embattled teams like Gerolsteiner and Cofidis initiated the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible) in 2007 and now includes squads like Ag2r La Mondiale, Europcar, FDJ-BigMat, Garmin-Sharp, Orica-GreenEdge, Argos-Shimano and Bretagne-Schuller. Four more teams joined on Tuesday, Prudhomme revealed.
He told reporters in Paris at the unveiling of next year’s Tour route that team managers had a responsibility to ensure their riders did not take banned substances.
“The world of cycling has been working for a number of years for a real cultural shift, but it hasn’t gone far enough,” he said. “Team managers are an essential cog in the machine. They should be the safeguard in the real sense of the word.
“We agree totally with what the MPCC does. The rules they enforce are stronger than those of the UCI, but also of the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
Prudhomme, who is not in favor of re-awarding Armstrong’s Tour titles to other podium finishers — not least because the majority have also been implicated in doping scandals — called the MPCC “the future.”
He also said that team managers should not be afraid of speaking out about doping and if they did, they would have the full support of the Tour.
“The only way in which to change the culture (in cycling) is to apply draconian rules such as those that members of the MPCC apply,” he added.
The MPCC’s ethical code provides notably for the systematic dismissal of any rider found to have tested positive for a major doping product and suspended for more than six months.
Other measures include a two-week absence for any rider who has taken corticosteroids — used to treat saddle sores and swelling — and calling in an independent doctor to check the health records of riders in major races.
If any team has two riders who have tested positive for banned substances in the previous 12 months, officials agree to withdraw their team to assess the situation.