x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

New programmes are launched to ensure Tour is drug free

With the Tour de France kicking off on July 4, various steps are being taken to ensure this year's event is as drug free as possible.

With the Tour de France kicking off on July 4, various steps are being taken to ensure this year's event is as drug free as possible. For starters, judges from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) - the sport's governing body - are being called back, a year after they were kept out because of a bitter spat with Tour organisers. The UCI have launched their "biological passport" anti-doping programme, in which samples were taken from 840 professional riders to determine their body chemistry profiles. Any suspicious fluctuation from those levels could lead to penalties, even if no specific substance turns up in tests.

Meanwhile, France's anti-doping agency, the AFLD, are going to target suspicious riders - rather than focus on random tests used in previous years - and will test for an unspecified new drug. The agency have also been authorised to freeze samples taken during the Tour. This allows them to be tested in the future for drugs that have not yet been identified as enhancers. "We know there are some substances and methods, and we are going to try to detect them," said Pierre Bordry, head of the AFLD. "There are things that aren't found in blood, but I'm not going to give an example, because people who advise athletes on doping adopt their programmes based on drug-testers' mindsets."

* With agencies