Cyclists, if they sign pledge, will forfeit year's salary if they fail doping test

Updated: June 19, 2007, 4:54 PM ET
Associated Press

GENEVA -- ProTour cyclists will be asked to sign a declaration before the Tour de France saying they are not involved in doping and that they agree to pay one year's salary if found guilty of drug use.

Mark Cavendish, left, Pat McQuaid, center, and Sandy Casar.
Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesMark Cavendish (left) and Sandy Cesar (right) sign a declaration they will not engage in doping, while UCI president Pat McQuaid looks on.

The measures were announced Tuesday by the International Cycling Union following a meeting with leaders of all 20 ProTour teams to discuss the sport's doping crisis. The Tour starts in London on July 7.

"The UCI will not tolerate any individual or organization that causes damage to our sport," UCI president Pat McQuaid said. "There is no reason cycling and doping should be linked and no reason doping should overshadow our sport."

In the declaration, the riders also agree to let Spanish authorities use their DNA to compare it to blood samples seized in the Operation Puerto doping investigation.

T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish and Francaise des Jeux rider Sandy Casar each signed the document at a news conference that followed the meeting.

"It's better than nothing. It's a desperate step by a desperate sport," Team Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer said. "But it's an important step in the right direction because everyone can see cycling is not free from doping."

It's better than nothing. It's a desperate step by a desperate sport. ... But it's an important step in the right direction because everyone can see cycling is not free from doping.

Team Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer

The UCI will publish a list of those cyclists who have signed the anti-doping declaration on its Web site.

"This will show those who are reluctant to sign it," McQuaid said.

Although the federation can't force riders to sign, UCI is asking team managers to take that into consideration when deciding whether to enter riders in a race. The UCI is also asking teams not to let riders involved in Operation Puerto or other doping cases start the Tour de France or other races.

"The riders who are cheating might hesitate when they see a one-year salary [as a sanction]," Holczer said.

UCI is also asking teams to forbid their cyclists from seeking medical consultations outside the team staff.

"Illegal practices will not be tolerated anymore," McQuaid said.

UCI appointed a Spanish-speaking lawyer to work at its headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, on the Operation Puerto case.

The scandal broke in May 2006 when Spanish authorities seized about 100 bags of frozen blood in the Madrid offices of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. More than 50 cyclists were implicated, but a judge ruled that Spain's doping laws couldn't be applied retroactively and threw out the case. However, the UCI has continued to pursue the matter.

The UCI recently received 1,000 pages of files from the investigation. It expects another 5,000 pages within the next few weeks.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press