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by Shane Stokes
March 6, 2018
Photography by Cor Vos
Responding to Chris Froome’s ongoing anti-doping rules violation case plus Monday’s publication of an investigative inquiry into the use of triamcinolone by Bradley Wiggins, the MPCC has called on the UCI to change the sport’s regulations and to strengthen its rules.
Both Wiggins and Froome won the Tour de France with Team Sky, which has thus far declined to join the MPCC.
The group is a voluntary anti-doping organisation which imposes tougher regulations on its members than the standard UCI and WADA rules.
“29 out of the 45 first and second division’s teams are members of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible,” the MPCC pointed out in its statement. “This is a big part of the international peloton. Many of them are first class riders, including world champion Peter Sagan, Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin, and 2nd and 3rd of the last Tour de France: Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet.”
It added that all of the members of teams aligned with the MPCC agree to immediately withdraw from racing as soon as a rider receives news of a positive A-sample test.
“On the 18th of December 2017, following the announcement of 4 times Tour de France winner Chris Froome’s abnormal control, the MPCC and its board asked Team Sky to ‘immediately suspend the rider until the end of the procedure, without waiting for the final decision. That would help both the rider and the team to implement a defence strategy with serenity, avoiding any irritation coming from other staffs and riders.’
“Team Sky chose not to suspend its rider until the end of the procedure as Christopher Froome took part in the Ruta del Sol’s first stage on the 14th of February. The MPCC takes full notice of this decision from team Sky. The MPCC also takes full notice of the Ruta del Sol’s organizers’ decision to welcome Chris Froome warmly.”
Froome was tested after stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana. His sample contained 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) of Salbutamol, twice the maximum of 1,000 ng/ml permitted by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
A b-sample analysis confirmed the result, but as salbutamol is categorised as a ‘specified substance’ in the WADA rules, the normal requirement for the rider to cease racing pending a final outcome does not apply.
This means that Froome is able to continue competing, despite the fact that he could end up being disqualified down the line from the events he is riding. Race organisers, fellow riders and others have pointed out that this causes negative publicity and considerable uncertainty, with the organisers of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France amongst those who have expressed frustration.
Froome is aiming to try to win both events, but were he to succeed in that aim, he could end up being stripped of those titles afterwards.
The MPCC is not happy with this and appeals for change.
“The board formally asks UCI and WADA for a standardization of the procedures and that a rider facing a pending anti-doping enquiry should have to stop racing systematically,” it says. “The MPCC also recalls its requests for a ban of the corticosteroids and tramadol use in competition.
“In order to maintain cycling’s image and credibility, it is of great importance that when facing the situation of a positive or abnormal anti-doping control result, the procedure remains the same whether the rider is part of a MPCC team or not.”
It concludes its statement by saying that while it is awaiting a change in the official rules of the UCI and WADA, that it requests the UCI to make a modification to the regulations for WorldTour events.
“Organizers should be able to exclude from their races a rider that would be facing a pending enquiry following a positive or abnormal control.”
Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford has repeatedly been asked why Team Sky doesn’t join, given his talk about the team’s ethical stance. He said in the past that it wouldn’t become a member because he wanted Team Sky to have stronger regulations than the MPCC. However the group doesn’t prevent member teams from going above and beyond its own rules, but rather accepts them as a minimum.