Owner of Tour de France blames world cycling org for dope messAt a press conference on Saturday morning Patrice Clerc and Christian Prudhomme of the Amaury Sports Organisation, owner/organiser of the Tour de France, distanced themselves from the Union Cycliste Internationale.
The organisations have been at war before but the views expressed at today's press conference are perhaps the most bitter to date.
The ASO is calling for the resignation of Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, for failing in its duties to prevent Michael Rasmussen from starting the race after missing out-of-competition dope tests.
Patrice Clerc, president ASO said:
"[There has been a] lack of clarity, transparency, competence, and most of all a lack of professionalism" by the UCI.Article continues below
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme – normally such a nice guy as this YouTube video attests – claimed the UCI may have been deliberately trying to harm the Tour's image because of past ProTour tussles between the two organisations:
"There are two possibilites: either [the UCI bosses] have been incompetent, or they have gone out of their way to damage the reputation of the Tour.
Because the UCI did not inform ASO of Rasmussen's missed tests, Prudhomme said: "I've been betrayed."
Watch a video here of a debate on the "guilty" dopers, transmitted by the France24 news channel and featuring the editor of BikeBiz.com.
ASO has said it wants to take part in a cycling-specific anti-doping summit to be organised by WADA, the world anti-doping authority. However, the UCI has called WADA's actions "a farce."
The UCI's statement reads:
WADA is now criticising the UCI for having found banned substances, which is the consequence of any effective anti-doping campaign, and is preparing to stage a show trial instigated by its President Richard Pound, who during the Tour de France, has constantly made condescending comments about cycling.
The same Richard Pound, under threat of a libel complaint, retracted previous statements by sending a letter to «The Guardian» newspaper confirming in particular that: «I acknowledge that with the information that I now have, my opinion is that the UCI is not turning a blind eye to doping. On the contrary, the UCI is committed to fight doping in cycling. I would have made it clear that the UCI has indeed a watchful eye on the matter of doping».
The UCI refuses to be subject to a farce.
On the contrary, the UCI is totally willing to discuss and share its experience with any neutral organisation capable of proposing improvements to its anti-doping programme in a constructive manner and under acceptable conditions.
Regarding ASO's assertions about Rasmussen, the UCI has said:
Concerning article 220 of the UCI anti-doping rules, stipulating that in case of a recorded warning or a missed test in a period of 45 days before a major Tour, the rider is not allowed to participate in that Tour, this article was introduced to ensure that riders were available for testing prior to the Major Tours. In Michael Rasmussen’s case, the UCI was able to conduct testing on him in the 45 days period before the Tour. The testing results were negative.
During the implementation of the whereabouts system, it has become obvious that Article 220 is overly harsh if it is used to deny a rider the right to participate in a race because of an administrative oversight (as was, on 29 June 2007, apparently the case with Mr. Rasmussen).
The article results in a penalty that is disproportionate to other anti-doping rule infractions. It is in conflict with the three-warning system designed to ensure a rider has the opportunity to address administrative failures. A decision has been made to recommend the formal abrogation of the Article, which will in no way affect the whereabouts system as provided for by the UCI anti-doping rules (article 86) and the World Anti-Doping Code.