Drug testers accused of leniency towards Astana

A report by France's anti-doping agency (AFLD) accuses the International Cycling Union (UCI) of adopting a lax attitude on doping tests when it came to the Astana team of Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, French media say.


AFP - The Astana team of Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and third placed Lance Armstrong were given an easy ride during dope tests at the 2009 event, two leading French newspapers said Monday.

They quoted a report by the French anti-doping agency AFLD accusing the International Cyclist Union (UCI) of failing to apply the rules properly to Astana, Le Monde and the Figaro said.

"For some teams, the unexpected nature of anti-doping tests did not exist on the Tour," the Figaro said, adding that the 10-page AFLD report was to be sent on Monday to the UCI and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

The website Le gives details of how Kazakh-backed Astana was allowed to "always have the last tests in the morning, more time to go to the tester."

The daily said AFLD doctors noted that on the morning of July 11 in the Astana team hotel, UCI inspectors intervened allowing Astana riders an extra 45 minutes before testing, which was supposed to be carried out immediately under the rules.

"Such tolerance, granted without proper justification, in the absence of escorts, does not follow the faultless regularity of the procedure, particularly ensuring that no manipulation took place," the report said.

Other failures to follow the rules concerning all riders are contained in the report.

It also charges that UCI inspectors wrongly labelled tests carried out in team hotels in the mornings and evenings as "outside competition".

"This error is full of serious consequences," the report said, noting that the list of substances banned "in competition" is much more extensive than those banned outside.

Astana has had a stormy year with its financial future repeatedly in doubt. After Spain's Contador won the Tour, his teammate American Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour champion, promptly quit and has joined new American team Radio Shack.

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