PARIS (AP) — The French Anti-Doping Agency hopes it will have the support of cycling's governing body to store blood and urine samples from Tour de France riders for eight years.
Bruno Genevois, the head of French agency AFLD, said Tuesday the budget for doping tests at the upcoming Tour is "at least as much as for last year." He said Tour organizers have agreed to pay half the costs.
In its annual report released on Tuesday, AFLD said 214 blood and urine samples were collected during the 2012 Tour. The agency and cycling body UCI have often clashed in the past. But in late April they reached an agreement to cooperate and test riders on the Tour, which runs from June 29-July 21.
Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, labs can stores samples for eight years. The samples can be retested within the eight-year period when new testing methods become available. Genevois said storing the samples costs money and he made clear that UCI has the last word about whether the samples should be kept or destroyed.
"Legally, it's a sensitive issue," Genevois said. "Those samples are collected at the UCI's request. The French laboratories keep them but it's the UCI that has control over them." Genevois said AFLD will test some riders before the start of the Tour.
Luxembourg rider Frank Schleck was pulled from last year's Tour after testing positive during the race for a diuretic called Xipamide. He was suspended for a year and will miss this year's Tour. Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain is the Tour favorite after winning the Criterium du Dauphine in impressive fashion last week.
Froome finished second in last year's Tour behind Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins has pulled out of this year's Tour, citing illness and a knee injury.