'Clean cycling' calls for zero tolerance on doping
The "clean cycling" union has called for a zero tolerance approach to doping from next year, as the sport tries to claw back its credibility after the damaging Lance Armstrong scandal.
In a letter, the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) called for the international association of race organisers, the World Anti-Doping Agency and European cycling confederation to back moves to make zero tolerance "the golden rule" in the sport.
The MPCC consists of 11 professional cycling teams and enforces a strict ethical code that 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.
The letter, a copy of which has been seen by AFP, urged all race organisers to "adhere unreservedly" to the group's philosophy of not inviting new members who do not stick to their stringent anti-doping code.
"Like team managers, all organisers, including those from the WorldTour when they hand out wild cards, have the power only to invite teams (whether they are part of the MPCC or not) who respect our internal rules", the correspondence said.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme on October 24 gave his backing to the MPCC, describing its approach as "the future" for the sport.
"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.
Elsewhere in the letter, the MPCC told Wada it was concerned about the increasing use of corticosteroids, which riders have used to treat inflammation and saddle sores but are on the banned list.
It also called on European bodies "not to select for national teams in any discipline or race any rider suspended for more than six months in the two years following their suspension".
The MPCC said the sanction should not be retroactive but "should apply only for (doping) violations committed from January 1, 2013".
Cycling's reputation has been hit by the fall-out from the Armstrong affair, after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said he was at the centre of the biggest doping programme in the history of sport.
The US rider has been banned from cycling for life and stripped of his career record from August 1, 1998, including his record seven Tour de France victories.
The International Cycling Union (UCI), which has been under pressure to reveal how Armstrong managed to escape detection for so long, meanwhile said they would launch a consultation on the future of the sport starting in the first quarter of next year.
"We must all work together to recover from the damage which the Armstrong affair has undoubtedly done to our sport, the sport we all love and cherish," president Pat McQuaid said in an emailed statement.
The UCI has separately set up an independent commission to look at the sport's drug-scarred past, as outlined in the devastating Armstrong dossier, and make recommendations to help restore confidence in the body and the sport as a whole.
Its findings will be published no later than June 1, 2013.