MILAN (VN) — The Association of Race Organizers (AIOCC) essentially forced four-year bans and tighter anti-doping controls on cycling Friday by voting in favor of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC). It agreed to give MPCC’s member teams priority when issuing invitations to its races, which include the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
The association represents some 115 races, including the three grand tours and all major classics. Its 80 members gathered for an annual meeting Friday in Paris, where it backed the MPCC’s efforts and thus changed cycling’s future.
Teams will now have to get tougher on doping if they want to race in the big events. Granted, all 18 first-division teams have the right to race in the grand tours and other WorldTour events, but beyond that the MPCC reigns. MPCC’s teams now have priority to wild-card invitations in WorldTour races, including the four coveted spots in each grand tour, and to participate in any non-WorldTour event.
Those teams, though, must conform to the movement’s standards of conduct. The standards extend doping bans by two years, tighten the grip on corticosteroid use and force stronger internal controls for teams.
The MPCC formed in 2007 in the midst of the Operación Puerto doping scandal. Its president, Roger Legeay, received renewed support recently in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. Membership now has nearly doubled to 18 teams, including four first-division teams, agreeing to the movement’s standards of conduct.
Standards of conduct:
• Prohibit a rider from racing after the positive result of the first analysis or “A” sample.
• Don’t sign a rider who has had a ban of more than six months during the two years following his ban. An exception is given to whereabouts cases.
• If a rider needs corticosteroids (used for saddle sores and swelling) then pull him from competition for eight days.
• An internal control following a positive test within the team.
• If a team has more than one positive case from the past 12 months, withdraw it and assess the situation.
The MPCC may receive more requests to join due to the AIOCC vote. It already includes first-division teams AG2R La Mondiale, FDJ, Garmin-Sharp and Lotto-Belisol, eight second-division teams and five third-division teams. On Saturday, it announced that first-division team Rabobank asked to join.
Teams refusing to adhere to the MPCC’s standards may face a limited racing schedule. For example, had the organizers already been on board, Alberto Contador would have been unable to race and win Milano-Torino. Saxo-Tinkoff, assuming it was a MPCC member, would have refused to hire him after his doping ban. If it had, it would have lost its MPCC membership and may have missed an invitation to the non-WorldTour event.
The situation would have affected many others, like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and especially those riders in the second division, like Franco Pellizotti (Androni). The MPCC, however, will apply its standards proactively.
“Let’s put a white line on the road,” Legeay told VeloNews last month. “We don’t have to think about the story before. I want them to join and to apply these strong rules heading forward.”
The organizers’ move to back Legeay’s MPCC, forcing stricter anti-doping rules on teams, trumps the governing body’s rules. For the most part, the UCI derives its rules from the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC). Legeay, though, has written to WADA to ask it to change its code.
As part of the AIOCC meeting, members re-elected Tour director Christian Prudhomme as president, voted for other members and decided to help the UCI design a new race schedule for 2015.
First division: AG2R La Mondiale, FDJ, Garmin-Sharp and Lotto-Belisol.
Second division: Bardiani-CSF, Bretagne-Schuller, Cofidis, Colombia-Coldeportes, Europcar, IAM Cycling, NetApp and Saur-Sojasun.
Third division: Auber 93, La Pomme Marseille, OCBC Singapore, Optum and Plussbank-BMC.
Applicants: Accent Jobs, Jelly Belly Cycling, Landbouwkrediet (Crelan-Euphony), Rabobank, Roubaix Lille Metropole and Team Type 1.