The Tour de France has re-confirmed that Alberto Contador's Astana team will not be taking part in this year's race despite the Spaniard's recent victory in the Tour of Italy.
It had been rumoured in Spain that the Tour might let Contador and Astana ride this year's Tour de France following the Madrid-born rider?s success in the Giro. But the Tour has refused to reverse its original decision.
Tour boss Christian Prudhomme told French news agency AFP and French newspaper L?Equipe that "We've always said that we've got nothing against Contador. But it was the recurrence of certain events in Astana in 2006 and 2007 which led us to take this decision [to exclude the Kazakh team from the 2008 Tour]."
Prudhomme did not rule out the possibility that Astana might be re-admitted to the Tour in 2009 "if there are no problems and good results in 2008."
In the same press conference, it was apparently confirmed that the 2008 Tour de France will be run under French Cycling Federation (FFC) rules and not by the UCI.
The announcement was not at all surprising given that the Tour and the UCI have been at loggerheads over the UCI's ProTour league for several years.
According to L'Equipe, the most serious consequence of the continuing UCI-Tour de France rift is that information from the UCI-run biological passport cannot be used during the Tour. The passport had been hailed as the latest big anti-doping weapon.
It also emerged during the press conference that the contract between Tour owners ASO and the teams includes a "whereabouts clause" for their riders.
Just as at Paris-Nice - also run under FFC rules - the AFLD will carry out blood and urine testing. The AFLD will also carry out testing of hair samples for banned substances - an innovation this year in anti-doping procedures for cycling.
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